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The Death of the Grizzly. 

(From the Drawing by A. B. Frost.) 



NEW LIBRARY EDITION 



THE 



iX 



WILDERNESS HUNTER 



Sketches of Sport on the Northern Cattle Plains 



BY 

THEODORE ROOSEVELT 



TWO VOLUMES IN ONE 
PART I 



G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 

NEW YORK AND LONDON 

Jlbc fcnicfterbocl^er pcese 



•7f75~ 



Copyright, 1893 

by 

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 



3 «:r ^ '\ "t H 



TO 

E- K R. 



"They saw the silences 
Move by and beckon; saw the forms, 
The very beards, of burly storms, 
And heard them talk like sounding seas . . 
They saw the snowy mountains rolled 
And heaved along the nameless lands 
Like mighty billows; saw the gold 
Of awful sunsets ; saw the blush 
Of sudden dawn, and felt the hush 
Of heaven when the day sat down 
And hid his face in dusky hands." 

Joaquin Miller. 



"In vain the speeding or shyness; 
In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods . . . 

. where geese nip their food with short jerks, 
Where sundown shadows lengthen over the limitless prairie, 
Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square 

miles, far and near. 
Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and ice-clad 

trees . . . 
The moose, large as an ox, cornered by himters, plunging 

with his forefeet, the hoofs as sharp as knives . . 
The blazing fire at night, the sweet taste of supper, the talk, 
the bed of hemlock boughs, and the bear-skin." 

Walt Whitman. 



PREFACE 

FOR a number of years much of my life was 
spent either in the wilderness or on the 
borders of the settled country — if, indeed, 
*' settled" is a term that can rightly be applied to 
the vast, scantily peopled regions where cattle- 
ranching is the only regular industry. During 
this time I hunted much, among the mountains 
and on the plains, both as a pastime and to pro- 
cure hides, meat, and robes for use on the ranch ; 
and it was my good luck to kill all the various 
kinds of large game that can properly be consid- 
ered to belong to temperate North America. 

In hunting, the finding and killing of the game 
is after all but a part of the whole. The free, self- 
reliant, adventurous life, with its rugged and stal- 
wart democracy ; the wild surroundings, the grand 
beauty of the scenery, the chance to study the 
ways and habits of the woodland creatures — all 
these unite to give to the career of the wilderness 
hunter its peculiar charm. The chase is among 
the best of all national pastimes ; it cultivates that 
vigorous manliness for the lack of which in a na- 
tion, as in an individual, the possession of no other 
qualities can possibly atone. 

VOL. I . vii 



viii Preface 

No one but he who has partaken thereof can 
understand the keen deHght of hunting in lonely 
lands. For him is the joy of the horse well ridden 
and the rifle well held; for him the long days of 
toil and hardship, resolutely endured, and crowned 
at the end with triumph. In after years there 
shall come forever to his mind the memory of end- 
less prairies shimmering in the bright sun ; of vast 
snow-clad wastes lying desolate under gray skies ; 
of the melancholy marshes ; of the rush of mighty 
rivers; of the breath of the evergreen forest in 
summer ; of the crooning of ice-armored pines at 
the touch of the winds of winter ; of cataracts roar- 
ing between hoary mountain masses; of all the 
innumerable sights and sounds of the wilderness ; 
of its immensity and mystery ; and of the silences 
that brood in its still depths. 



Sagamore Hill, 

June, 1893. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

THE AMERICAN WILDERNESS; WILDERNESS HUNTERS AND 
WILDERNESS GAME 

The American wilderness — Forests, plains, mountains — 
Likeness and unlikeness to the Old- World wilderness — Wil- 
derness hunters — Boone, Crockett, Houston, Carson — The 
trappers — The buffalo hunters — The stockmen — The regular 
army — Wilderness game — Bison, moose, elk, caribou, deer, 
antelope — Other game — Hunting in the wilderness. . . . 1-23 

CHAPTER II 

HUNTING FROM THE RANCH) THE BLACKTAIL DEER 

In the cattle country — Life on a ranch — A round-up — 
Branding a maverick — The Bad Lands — ^A shot at a blacktail 
— Still-hunting the blacktail — Its habits — Killing a buck in 
August — A shot at close range — Occasional unwariness of 
blacktail 24-43 

CHAPTER III 

THE WHITETAIL DEER; AND THE BLACKTAIL OF THE COLUMBIA 

The whitetail — Yields poor sport — Fire hunting — Hunting 
with hounds — Shooting at running game — Queer adventure — 
Anecdotes of plainsmen — Good and bad shots — A wagon-trip 
— A shot from the ranch-house verandah — The Columbian 
blacktail 44-64 

VOL. I. 

IX 



X Contents 

CHAPTER IV 

ON THE CATTLE RANGES; THE PRONGHORN ANTELOPE 

Riding to the round-up — The open plains — Sights and 
sounds — Gophers, prairie dogs, sharp-tail grouse, antelope — 
The cow-camp — Standing night guard — Dawn — Make an an- 
telope hunt — An easy stalk — A difficult stalk — Three antelope 
shot — The plains skylark — The meadow lark — The mocking- 
bird — Other singers — Harsher wilderness sounds — Pack-rats 
— Plains ferret, its ferocity — The war eagle — Attacks antelope 
— Kills jack-rabbit — One shot on wing with rifle 65-86 

CHAPTER V 

HUNTING THE PRONGBUCK; FROST, FIRE, AND THIRST 

Hunting the prongbuck — Long shots — Misses — Winter 
weather — A hiuit in December — Riding in the bitter cold — 
The old hunter's tepee — A night in a line camp — An antelope 
herd — Two bucks shot — Riding back to ranch — The immi- 
grant train — Hunting in fall — Fighting fire — A summer hunt 
— Sufferings from thirst — Swimming cattle across a swollen 
stream — Wagon-trip to the Black Hills — The great prairies — 
A prongbuck shot — Pleasant camp — Buck shot in morning 
— Continue our journey — Shooting sage-fowl and prairie-fowl 
with rifle 87-1 1 7 

CHAPTER VI 

AMONG THE HIGH HILLS; THE BIGHORN OR MOUNTAIN SHEEP 

A summer on the ranch — Working among the cattle — Kill- 
ing game for the ranch — A trip after mountain sheep — The 
Bad Lands — Solitary camp — The old horse Manitou — Still- 
hunt at dawn — Young ram shot — A hunt in the Rocky 
Mountains — An old bighorn stalked and shot — Habits of the 
game 1 18-130 



Contents xi 

CHAPTER VII 

MOUNTAIN game; THE WHITE-GOAT 

A trip to the Bighole Basin — Incidents of travel with a 
wagon — Camp among the moiintains — -A trip on foot after 
goats — Spruce grouse — Lying out at night — A cHmb over the 
high peaks — Two goats shot — Weary tramp back — A hunt in 
the Kootenai coumtry — Hard cHmbing among the wooded 
mountains — Goat shot on brink of chasm — Ptarmigan for 
supper — Goat hunting very hard work — Ways and habits of 
the goats — Not much decrease in numbers. . , 1 31-154 

CHAPTER VIII 

HUNTING IN THE SELKIRKS; THE CARIBOU 

A camp on Kootenai Lake — Travelling on foot through the 
dense forests — Excessive toil — Water-shrew and water- thrush 
- — Black bear killed — Mountain climbing — Woodchucks and 
conies — The Indian Animal — Night sounds — A long walk — 
A caribou killed — A midwinter trip on snow-shoes in Maine — 
Footprints on the snow — ^A helpless deer — Caribou' at ease in 
the deep drifts 155-183 

CHAPTER IX 

THE WAPITI OR ROUND-HORNED ELK 

A hunt in the Bitter Root Mountains — A trip on foot — Two 
bull elk fighting — The peace-maker — All three shot — Habits 
of the wapiti — Their bungling — A grand chorus— Shooting a 
bull at sunrise — Another killed near the ranch — Vanishing of 
the elk — Its antlers — The lynx — Porcupine — Chickarees and 
chipmunks — Clarke's crow — Lewis's woodpecker — Whisky- 
iack — Trout — The Yellowstone canyon 184-208 



xii Contents 

CHAPTER X 

AN ELK-HUNT AT TWO-OCEAN PASS 

In the Shoshones — Travelling with a pack-train — Scenery 
— Flowers — A squaw-man — Bull elk shot in rain while chal- 
lenging — Storm — Breaking camp in rain — Two- Ocean Pass — 
Our camp — A young ten-pointer shot — The mountains in 
moonlight — Blue grouse — Snow-shoe rabbits — Death of a 
master bull — The Tetons — Following a bull by scent — 111 
luck — Luck changes — Death of spike bull — Three bulls killed 
— Travelling home — Heavy snowstorm — Bucking horse — 
Various hunts compared — Number cartridges used — Still- 
himting the elk 209-239 

CHAPTER XI 

THE moose; THE BEAST OF THE WOODLAND 

The moose of the Rocky Mountains — Its habits — Difficult 
nature of its haunts — Repeated failures while hunting it — 
Watching a marsh at dawn — A moose in the reeds — Stalking 
and shooting him — Travelling light with a pack-train — A 
beaver meadow — Shooting a big bull at dawn — The moose in 
summer, in winter — Young moose — Pugnacity of moose — 
Still-hunting moose — Rather more easy to kill than whitetail 
deer — At times a dangerous antagonist — The winter yards — 
Hunting on snow-shoes — A narrow escape — A fatal en- 
counter 240-2 7 1 



THE 

WILDERNESS HUNTER 



THE WILDERNESS 
HUNTER 



CHAPTER I 

THE AMERICAN WILDERNESS; WILDERNESS 
HUNTERS AND WILDERNESS GAME 



M 



ANIFOLD are the shapes taken by the 
American wilderness. In the east, from 
the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi val- 
ley, lies a land of magnificent hardwood forest. In 
endless variety and beauty, the trees cover the 
ground, save only where they have been cleared 
away by man, or where towards the west the ex- 
panse of the forest is broken by fertile prairies. 
Towards the north, this region of hardwood trees 
merges insensibly into the southern extension of 
the great subarctic forest; here the silver stems 
of birches gleam against the sombre background 
of coniferous evergreens. In the southeast again, 
by the hot, oozy coasts of the South Atlantic and 
the Gulf, the forest becomes semi-tropical ; palms 
wave their feathery fronds, and the tepid swamps 
teem with reptile life. 



VOL. I. — I. 



2 The Wilderness Hunter 

Some distance beyond the Mississippi, stretch- 
ing from Texas to North Dakota, and westward to 
the Rocky Mountains, lies the plains country. 
This is a region of light rainfall, where the ground 
is clad with short grass, while cottonwood trees 
fringe the courses of the winding plains streams; 
streams that are alternately turbid torrents and 
mere dwindling threads of water. The great 
stretches of natural pasture are broken by gray 
sage-brush plains and tracts of strangely shaped 
and colored Bad Lands; sun-scorched wastes in 
summer, and in winter arctic in their iron desola- 
tion. Beyond the plains rise the Rocky Moun- 
tains, their flanks covered with coniferous woods ; 
but the trees are small, and do not ordinarily grow 
very closely together. Towards the north the 
forest becomes denser, and the peaks higher ; and 
glaciers creep down towards the valleys from the 
fields of everlasting snow. The brooks are brawl- 
ing, trout-filled torrents; the swift rivers foam 
over rapid and cataract, on their way to one or the 
other of the two great oceans. 

Southwest of the Rockies evil and terrible des- 
erts stretch for leagues and leagues, mere waterless 
wastes of sandy plain and barren mountain, 
broken here and there by narrow strips of fertile 
ground. Rain rarely falls, and there are no 
clouds to dim the brazen sun. The rivers run in 
deep canyons, or are swallowed by the burning 



The American Wilderness 3 

sand; the smaller watercourses are dry through- 
out the greater part of the year. 

Beyond this desert region rise the sunny Sierras 
of California, with their flower-clad slopes and 
groves of giant trees; and north of them, along 
the coast, the rain-shrouded mountain chains of 
Oregon and Washington, matted with the tower- 
ing growth of the mighty evergreen forest. 

The white hunters, who from time to time first 
penetrated the different parts of this wilderness, 
found themselves in such hunting-grounds as 
those wherein, long ages before, their Old- World 
forefathers had dwelt ; and the game they chased 
was much the same as that their lusty barbarian 
ancestors followed, with weapons of bronze and 
of iron, in the dim years before history dawned. 
As late as the end of the seventeenth century the 
turbulent village nobles of Lithuania and Livonia 
hunted the bear, the bison, the elk, the wolf, and 
the stag, and hung the spoils in their smoky 
wooden palaces ; and so, two hundred years later, 
the free hunters of Montana, in the interludes be- 
tween hazardous mining quests and bloody In- 
dian campaigns, hunted game almost or quite the 
same in kind, through the cold mountain forests 
surrounding the Yellowstone and Flathead lakes, 
and decked their log cabins and ranch-houses with 
the hides and horns of the slaughtered beasts. 

Zoologically speaking, the north temperate 



4 The Wilderness Hunter 

zones of the Old and New Worlds are very similar, 
differing from one another much less than they do 
from the various regions south of them, or than 
these regions differ among themselves. The un- 
trodden American wilderness resembles, both in 
game and physical character, the forests, the moun- 
tains, and the steppes of the Old World as it was 
at the beginning of our era. Great woods of pine 
and fir, birch and beech, oak and chestnut ; streams 
where the chief game fish are spotted trout and 
silvery salmon; grouse of various kinds as the 
most common game birds, — all these the hunter 
finds as characteristic of the New World as of the 
Old. So it is with most of the beasts of the chase, 
and so also with the fur-bearing animals that fur- 
nish to the trapper alike his life-work and his means 
of livelihood. The bear, wolf, bison, moose, cari- 
bou, wapiti, deer, and bighorn, the lynx, fox, 
wolverine, sable, mink, ermine, beaver, badger, 
and otter of both worlds are either identical or 
more or less closely kin to one another. Some- 
times of the two forms, that found in the Old 
World is the larger. Perhaps more often the re- 
verse is true, the American beast being superior in 
size. This is markedly the case with the wapiti, 
which is merely a giant brother of the European 
stag, exactly as the fisher is merely a very large 
cousin of the European sable or marten. The ex- 
traordinary prong-buck, the only hollow-homed 



The American Wilderness 5 

ruminant which sheds its horns annually, is a dis- 
tant representative of the Old- World antelopes of 
the steppes ; the queer white antelope-goat has for 
its nearest kinsfolk certain Himalayan species. Of 
the animals commonly known to our hunters and 
trappers, only a few, such as the cougar, peccary, 
raccoon, possum (and among birds the wild tur- 
key), find their nearest representatives and type 
forms in tropical America. 

Of course, this general resemblance does not 
mean identity. The differences in plant life and 
animal life, no less than in the physical features of 
the land, are sufficiently marked to give the Amer- 
ican wilderness a character distinctly its own. 
Some of the most characteristic of the woodland 
animals, some of those which have most vividly 
impressed themselves on the imagination of the 
hunters and pioneer settlers, are the very ones 
which have no Old- World representatives. The 
wild turkey is in every way the king of American 
game birds. Among the small beasts the coon 
and the possum are those which have left the 
deepest traces in the humbler lore of the frontier ; 
exactly as the cougar — usually under the name of 
panther or mountain lion — is a favorite figure in 
the wilder hunting tales. Nowhere else is there 
anything to match the wealth of the eastern hard- 
wood forests in number, variety, and beauty of 
trees; nowhere else is it possible to find conifers 



6 The Wilderness Hunter 

approaching in size the giant redwoods and se- 
quoias of the Pacific slope. Nature here is generally 
on a larger scale than in the Old- World home of 
our race. The lakes are like inland seas, the rivers 
like arms of the sea. Among stupendous moun- 
tain chains there are valleys and canyons of fath- 
omless depth and incredible beauty and majesty. 
There are tropical swamps and sad, frozen marshes ; 
deserts and Death Valleys, weird and evil, and the 
strange wonderland of the Wyoming geyser re- 
gion. The waterfalls are rivers rushing over preci- 
pices; the prairies seem without limit, and the 
forest never ending. 

At the time when we first became a nation, nine 
tenths of the territory now included within the 
limits of the United States was wilderness. It was 
during the stirring and troubled years immediately 
preceding the outbreak of the Revolution that 
the most adventurous hunters, the vanguard of the 
hardy army of pioneer settlers, first crossed the 
Alleghanies, and roamed far and wide through 
the lonely, danger-haunted forests which filled 
the No-man's-land lying between the Tennessee 
and the Ohio. They waged ferocious warfare with 
Shawnee and Wyandott and wrought huge havoc 
among the herds of game with which the forest 
teemed. While the first Continental Congress was 
still sitting, Daniel Boon, the archetype of the 
American hunter, was leading his bands of tall 



The American Wilderness 7 

backwoods riflemen to settle in the beautiful 
coimtry of Kentucky, where the red and the white 
warriors strove with such obstinate rage that both 
races alike grew to know it as "the dark and 
bloody ground." 

Boon and his fellow-hunters were the heralds 
of the oncoming civilization, the pioneers in that 
conquest of the wilderness which has at last been 
practically achieved in our own day. Where they 
pitched their camps and built their log huts or 
stockaded hamlets, towns grew up, and men who 
were tillers of the soil, not mere wilderness wan- 
derers, thronged in to take and hold the land. 
Then, ill at ease among the settlements for which 
they had themselves made ready the way, and 
fretted even by the slight restraints of the rude 
and uncouth semi-civilization of the border, the 
restless hunters moved onward into the yet un- 
broken wilds where the game dwelt and the red 
tribes marched forever to war and hunting. Their 
untamable souls ever found something congenial 
and beyond measure attractive in the lawless free- 
dom of the lives of the very savages against whom 
they warred so bitterly. 

Step by step, often leap by leap, the frontier of 
settlement was pushed westward; and ever from 
before its advance fled the warrior tribes of the 
red men and the scarcely less intractable array of 
white Indian fighters and game hunters. When 



8 The Wilderness Hunter 

the Revolutionary War was at its height, George 
Rogers Clark, himself a mighty hunter of the old 
backwoods type, led his handful of hunter-soldiers 
to the conquest of the French towns of the Illinois. 
This was but one of the many notable feats of 
arms performed by the wild soldiery of the back- 
woods. Clad in their fringed and tasselled 
hunting shirts of buckskin or homespun, with coon- 
skin caps and deerhide leggings and moccasins, 
with tomahawk and scalping-knife thrust into 
their bead-worked belts, and long rifles in hand, 
they fought battle after battle of the most bloody 
character, both against the Indians, as at the 
Great Kanawha, at the Fallen Timbers, and at 
Tippecanoe, and against more civilized foes, as at 
King's Mountain, New Orleans, and the River 
Thames. 

Soon after the beginning of the present century 
Louisiana fell into our hands, and the most daring 
hunters and explorers pushed through the forests 
of the Mississippi valley to the great plains, 
steered across these vast seas of grass to the Rocky 
Mountains, and then through their rugged defiles 
onwards to the Pacific Ocean. In every work of 
exploration, and in all the earlier battles with the 
original lords of the western and southwestern 
lands, whether Indian or Mexican, the adven- 
turous hunters played the leading part; while 
close behind came the swarm of hard, dogged, 



The American Wilderness 9 

border-farmers, — a masterful race, good fighters 
and good breeders, as all masterful races must be. 
Very characteristic in its way was the career of 
quaint, honest, fearless Davy Crockett, the Ten- 
nessee rifleman and Whig Congressman, perhaps 
the best shot in all our country, whose skill in the 
use of his favorite weapon passed into a proverb, 
and who ended his days by a hero's death in the 
ruins of the Alamo. An even more notable man 
was another mighty hunter, Houston, who when a 
boy ran away to the Indians ; who while still a lad 
returned to his own people to serve under Andrew 
Jackson in the campaigns which that greatest of 
all the backwoods leaders waged against the 
Creeks, the Spaniards, and the British. He was 
wounded at the storming of one of the strong- 
holds of Red Eagle's doomed warriors, and re- 
turned to his Tennessee home to rise to high civil 
honor, and become the foremost man of his State. 
Then, while Governor of Tennessee, in a sudden 
fit of moody anger, and of mad longing for the un- 
fettered life of the wilderness, he abandoned his 
office, his people, and his race, and fled to the 
Cherokees beyond the Mississippi. For years he 
lived as one of their chiefs ; until one day, as he 
lay in ignoble ease and sloth, a rider from the south, 
from the rolling plains of the San Antonio and 
Brazos, brought word that the Texans were up, 
and in doubtful struggle striving to wrest their 



lo The Wilderness Hunter 

freedom from the lancers and carbineers of Santa 
Anna. Then his dark soul flamed again into 
burning life; riding by night and day he joined 
the risen Texans, was hailed by them as a heaven- 
sent leader, and at the San Jacinto led them on to 
the overthrow of the Mexican host. Thus the 
stark hunter, who had been alternately Indian 
fighter and Indian chief, became the President of 
the new Republic, and, after its admission into 
the United States, a Senator at Washington ; and, 
to his high honor, he remained to the end of his 
days staunchly loyal to the flag of the Union. 

By the time that Crockett fell, and Houston be- 
came the darling leader of the Texans, the typical 
hunter and Indian fighter had ceased to be a 
backwoodsman; he had become a plainsman, or 
mountain-man ; for the frontier, east of which he 
never willingly went, had been pushed beyond the 
Mississippi. Restless, reckless, and hardy, he 
spent years of his life in lonely wanderings through 
the Rockies as a trapper; he guarded the slow- 
moving caravans, which for purposes of trade 
journeyed over the dangerous Santa Fe trail; he 
guided the large parties of frontier settlers who, 
driving before them their cattle, with all their 
household goods in their white-topped wagons, 
spent perilous months and seasons on their weary 
way to Oregon or California. Joining in bands, 
the stalwart, skin-clad riflemen waged ferocious 



The American Wilderness 1 1 

war on the Indians, scarcely more savage than 
themselves, or made long raids for plunder and 
horses against the outlying Mexican settlements. 
The best, the bravest, the most modest of them all, 
was the renowned Kit Carson. He was not only a 
mighty hunter, a daring fighter, a finder of trails, 
and maker of roads through the unknown, untrod- 
den wilderness, but also a real leader of men. 
Again and again he crossed and re-crossed the 
continent, from the Mississippi to the Pacific ; he 
guided many of the earliest military and explor- 
ing expeditions of the United States Govern- 
ment; he himself led the troops in victorious 
campaigns against Apache and Navahoe ; and in 
the Civil War he was made a colonel of the 
Federal army. 

After him came many other hunters. Most 
were pure-blooded Americans, but many were 
Creole Frenchmen, Mexicans, or even members of 
the so-called civilized Indian tribes, notably the 
Dela wares. Wide were their wanderings, many 
their strange adventures in the chase, bitter their 
unending warfare with the red lords of the land. 
Hither and thither they roamed, from the deso- 
late, burning deserts of the Colorado to the grassy 
plains of the upper Missouri ; from the rolling 
Texas prairies, bright beneath their sunny skies, 
to the high snow peaks of the northern Rockies, 
or the giant pine forests and soft, rainy weather 



12 The Wilderness Hunter 

of the coasts of Puget Sound. Their main busi- 
ness was trapping, furs being the only articles 
yielded by the wilderness, as they knew it, which 
were both valuable and portable. These early 
hunters were all trappers likewise, and, indeed, 
used their rifles only to procure meat or repel at- 
tacks. The chief of the fur-bearing animals they 
followed was the beaver, which abounded in the 
streams of the plains and mountains; in the far 
north they also trapped otter, mink, sable, and 
fisher. They married squaws from among the In- 
dian tribes with which they happened for the mo- 
ment to be at peace ; they acted as scouts for the 
United States troops in their campaigns against 
the tribes with which they happened to be at 
war. 

Soon after the Civil War the life of these hunters, 
taken as a class, entered on its final stage. The 
Pacific coast was already fairly well settled, and 
there were a few mining camps in the Rockies ; but 
most of this Rocky Mountains region, and the en- 
tire stretch of plains country proper, the vast belt 
of level or rolling grass -land lying between the Rio 
Grande and the Saskatchewan, still remained pri- 
meval wilderness, inhabited only by roving hunters 
and formidable tribes of Indian nomads, and by 
the huge herds of game on which they preyed. 
Beaver swarmed in the streams and yielded a rich 
harvest to the trapper; but trapping was no 



The American Wilderness 13 

longer the mainstay of the adventurous plainsmen. 
Foremost among the beasts of the chase, on ac- 
count of its numbers, its size, and its economic im- 
portance, was the bison, or American buffalo ; its 
innumerable multitudes darkened the limitless 
prairies. As the transcontinental railroads were 
pushed towards completion, and the tide of settle- 
ment rolled onwards with ever increasing rapidity, 
buffalo robes became of great value. The hunters 
forthwith turned their attention mainly to the 
chase of the great, clumsy beasts, slaughtering 
them by hundreds of thousands for their hides; 
sometimes killing them on horseback, but more 
often on foot, by still-hunting, with the heavy, 
long-range Sharp's rifle. Throughout the fifteen 
years during which this slaughter lasted, a succes- 
sion of desperate wars was waged with the banded 
tribes of the Horse Indians. All the time, in un- 
ending succession, long trains of big white-topped 
wagons crept slowly westward across the prairies, 
marking the steady oncoming of the frontier 
settlers. 

By the close of 1883 the last buffalo herd was 
destroyed. The beaver were trapped out of all 
the streams, or their numbers so thinned that it no 
longer paid to follow them. The last formidable 
Indian war had been brought to a successful close. 
The flood of the incoming whites had risen over 
the land ; tongues of settlement reached from the 



14 The Wilderness Hunter 

Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, and from the 
Rocky Mountains to the Pacific. The frontier 
had come to an end ; it had vanished. With it 
vanished also the old race of wilderness hunters, 
the men who spent all their days in the lonely 
wilds, and who killed game as their sole means of 
livelihood. Great stretches of wilderness still re- 
main in the Rocky Mountains, and here and there 
in the plains country, exactly as much smaller 
tracts of wild land are to be found in the Alle- 
ghanies and northern New York and New Eng- 
land ; and on these tracts occasional hunters and 
trappers still linger; but as a distinctive class, 
with a peculiar and important position in Amer- 
ican life, they no longer exist. 

There were other men beside the professional 
hunters, who lived on the borders of the wilder- 
ness, and followed hunting, not only as a pastime, 
but also as yielding an important portion of their 
subsistence. The frontier farmers were all hunt- 
ers. In the eastern backwoods, and in certain 
places in the west, as in Oregon, these adven- 
turous tillers of the soil were the pioneers among 
the actual settlers ; in the Rockies their places were 
taken by the miners, and on the great plains by the 
ranchmen and cowboys, the men who lived in the 
saddle, guarding their branded herds of horses and 
horned stock. Almost all of the miners and cow- 
boys were obliged on occasions to turn hunters. 



The American Wilderness 15 

Moreover, the regular army which played so im- 
portant a part in all the later stages of the winning 
of the west produced its full share of mighty hunt- 
ers. The later Indian wars were fought princi- 
pally by the regulars. The West Point officer and 
his little company of trained soldiers appeared 
abreast of the first hardy cattlemen and miners. 
The ordinary settlers rarely made their appear- 
ance until, in campaign after campaign, always 
inconceivably wearing and harrassing, and often 
very bloody in character, the scarred and tattered 
troops had broken and overthrown the most for- 
midable among the Indian tribes. Faithful, un- 
complaining, unflinching, the soldiers wearing the 
national uniform lived for many weary years at 
their lonely little posts, facing unending toil and 
danger with quiet endurance, surrounded by the 
desolation of vast solitudes, and menaced by the 
most merciless of foes. Hunting was followed 
not only as a sport, but also as the only means of 
keeping the posts and the expeditionary trains in 
meat. Many of the officers became equally pro- 
ficient as marksmen and hunters. The three most 
famous Indian fighters since the Civil War, Gen- 
erals Custer, Miles, and Crook, were all keen and 
successful followers of the chase. 

Of American big game the bison, almost always 
known as the buffalo, was the largest and most im- 
portant to man. When the first white settlers 



i6 The Wilderness Hunter 

landed in Virginia the bison ranged east of the 
AUeghanies almost to the sea-coast, westward to 
the dry deserts lying beyond the Rocky Mountains, 
northward to the Great Slave Lake and south- 
ward to Chihuahua. It was a beast of the forests 
and mountains, in the AUeghanies no less than in 
the Rockies ; but its true home was on the prairies 
and the high plains. Across these it roamed 
hither and thither, in herds of enormous, of in- 
credible, magnitude ; herds so large that they cov- 
ered the waving grass -land for hundreds of square 
leagues, and when on the march occupied days 
and days in passing a given point. But the seeth- 
ing myriads of shaggy-maned wild cattle vanished 
with remarkable and melancholy rapidity before 
the inroads of the white hunters and the steady 
march of the oncoming settlers. Now they are on 
the point of extinction. Two or three hundred 
are left in that great national game preserve, the 
Yellowstone Park; and it is said that others still 
remain in the wintry desolation of Athabasca. 
Elsewhere, only a few individuals exist — probably 
considerably less than half a hundred all told — 
scattered in small parties in the wildest and most 
inaccessible portions of the Rocky Mountains. A 
bison bull is the largest American animal. His 
huge bulk, his short, curved black horns, the 
shaggy mane clothing his great neck and shoulders, 
give him a look of ferocity which his conduct be- 



The American Wilderness 17 

lies. Yet he is truly a grand and noble beast, 
and his loss from our prairies and forests is as 
keenly regretted by the lover of nature and of 
wild life as by the hunter. 

Next to the bison in size, and much superior in 
height to it and to all other American game — for 
it is taller than the tallest horse — comes the moose, 
or broad-horned elk. It is a strange, uncouth- 
looking beast, with very long legs, short, thick 
neck, a big, ungainly head, a swollen nose 
and huge shovel horns. Its home is in the 
cold, wet pine and spruce forests, which stretch 
from the subarctic region of Canada southward in 
certain places across our frontier. Two centuries 
ago it was found as far south as Massachusetts. It 
has now been exterminated from its former haunts 
in northern New York and Vermont, and is on the 
point of vanishing from northern Michigan. It is 
still found in northern Maine and northeastern 
Minnesota and in portions of northern Idaho and 
Washington; while along the Rockies it extends 
its range southward through western Montana to 
northwestern Wyoming, south of the Tetons. In 
1884 I saw the fresh hide of one that was killed in 
the Bighorn Mountains. 

The wapiti, or round-horned elk, like the bison, 
and unlike the moose, had its centre of abun- 
dance in the United States, though extending 
northward into Canada. Originally, its range 



VOL. I.— 2. 



1 8 The Wilderness Hunter 

reached from ocean to ocean and it went in herds 
of thousands of individuals; but it has suffered 
more from the persecution of hunters than any- 
other game except the bison. By the beginning 
of this century it had been exterminated in most 
locaHties east of the Mississippi; but a few Hn- 
gered on for many years in the Alleghanies. Col- 
onel Cecil Clay informs me that an Indian whom 
he knew killed one in Pennsylvania in 1869. A 
very few still exist here and there in northern 
Michigan and Minnesota, and in one or two spots 
on the western boundary of Nebraska and the 
Dakotas; but it is now properly a beast of the 
wooded western mountains. It is still plentiful 
in western Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, 
and in parts of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. 
Though not as large as the moose, it is the most 
beautiful and stately of all animals of the deer 
kind, and its antlers are marvels of symmetrical 
grandeur. 

The woodland caribou is inferior to the wapiti 
both in size and symmetry. The tips of the many 
branches of its long, irregular antlers are slightly 
palmated. Its range is the same as that of the 
moose, save that it does not go so far southward. 
Its hoofs are long and round; even larger than 
the long, oval hoofs of the moose, and much 
larger than those of the wapiti. The tracks of 
all three can be told apart at a glance, and can- 



The American Wilderness 19 

not be mistaken for the footprints of other game. 
Wapiti tracks, however, look much Hke those of 
yearling and two-year-old cattle, unless the 
ground is steep and muddy, in which case the 
marks of the false hoofs appear, the joints of 
wapiti being more flexible than those of domestic 
stock. 

The whitetail deer is now, as it always has 
been, the best known and most abundant of 
American big game, and though its numbers 
have been greatly thinned it is still found in 
almost every State of the Union. The common 
blacktail, or mule deer, which has likewise been 
sadly thinned in numbers, though once extra- 
ordinarily abundant, extends from the great 
plains to the Pacific; but is supplanted on the 
Puget Sound coast by the Columbian blacktail. 
The delicate, heart-shaped footprints of all three 
are nearly indistinguishable; when the animal is 
running the hoof -points are of course separated. 
The track of the antelope is more oval, growing 
squarer with age. Mountain sheep leave foot- 
marks of a squarer shape, the points of the hoof 
making little indentations in the soil, well apart, 
even when the animal is only walking; and a 
yearling's track is not unlike that made by a 
big prong-buck when striding rapidly with the 
toes well apart. White-goat tracks are also 
square, and as large as those of the sheep; but 



20 The Wilderness Hunter 

there is less indentation of the hoof -points, which 
come nearer together. 

The antelope, or prongbuck, was once found 
in abundance from the eastern edge of the great 
plains to the Pacific, but it has everywhere dimin- 
ished in numbers, and has been exterminated 
along the eastern and western borders of its for- 
mer range. The bighorn, or mountain sheep, is 
found in the Rocky Mountains from northern 
Mexico to Alaska ; and in the United States from 
the Coast and Cascade ranges to the Bad Lands 
of the western edges of the Dakotas, wherever 
there are mountain chains or tracts of rugged 
hills. It was never very abundant, and, though 
it has become less so, it has held its own better 
than most game. The white -goat, however, alone 
among our game animals, has positively increased 
in numbers since the advent of settlers; because 
white hunters rarely follow it, and the Indians 
who once sought its skin for robes now use blank- 
ets instead. Its true home is in Alaska and 
Canada, but it crosses our borders along the 
lines of the Rockies and Cascades, and a few 
small isolated colonies are found here and there 
southward to California and New Mexico. 

The cougar and wolf, once common through- 
out the United States, have now completely dis- 
appeared from all save the wildest regions. The 
black bear holds its own better; it was never 



The American Wilderness 21 

found on the great plains. The huge grisly ranges 
from the great plains to the Pacific. The little 
peccary, or Mexican wild hog, merely crosses our 
southern border. 

The finest hunting-ground in America was, and 
indeed is, the mountainous region of western 
Montana and northwestern Wyoming. In this 
high, cold land o^ lofty mountains, deep forests, 
and open prairies, with its beautiful lakes and 
rapid rivers, all the species of big game men- 
tioned above, except the peccary and Columbian 
blacktail, are to be found. Until 1880 they were 
very abundant, and they are still, with the ex- 
ception of the bison, fairly plentiful. On most 
of the long hunting expeditions which I made 
away from my ranch, I went into this region. 

The bulk of my hunting has been done in the 
cattle country, near my ranch on the Little Mis- 
souri, and in the adjoining lands round the lower 
Powder and Yellowstone. Until 1881 the valley 
of the Little Missouri was fairly thronged with 
game, and was absolutely unchanged in any re- 
spect from its original condition of primeval 
wildness. With the incoming of the stockmen 
all this changed, and the game was wofully 
slaughtered; but plenty of deer and antelope, a 
few sheep and bear, and an occasional elk are 
still left. 

Since the professional hunters have vanished 



22 The Wilderness Hunter 

with the vast herds of game on which they preyed, 
the Hfe of the ranchman is that which yields most 
chance of hunting. Life on a cattle ranch, on the 
great plains or among the foothills of the high 
mountains, has a peculiar attraction for those 
hardy, adventurous spirits who take most kindly 
to a vigorous out-of-door existence, and who are 
therefore most apt to care passionately for the 
chase of big game. The free ranchman lives in 
a wild, lonely coimtry, and exactly as he breaks 
and tames his own horses, and guards and tends 
his own branded herds, so he takes the keenest 
enjoyment in the chase, which is to him not 
merely the pleasantest of sports, but also a means 
of adding materially to his comforts, and often 
his only method of providing himself with fresh 
meat. 

Hunting in the wilderness is of all pastimes 
the most attractive, and it is doubly so when not 
carried on merely as a pastime. Shooting over 
a private game preserve is of course in no way to 
be compared to it. The wilderness hunter must 
not only show skill in the use of the rifle and ad- 
dress in finding and approaching game, but he 
must also show the qualities of hardihood, self- 
reliance, and resolution needed for effectively 
grappling with his wild surroundings. The fact 
that the hunter needs the game, both for its meat 
and for its hide, undoubtedly adds a zest to the 



The Wilderness Hunter 23 

pursuit. Among the hunts which I have most 
enjoyed were those made when I was engaged in 
getting in the winter's stock of meat for my ranch, 
or was keeping some party of cowboys supplied 
with game from day to day. 



CHAPTER II 

HUNTING FROM THE RANCH ; THE BLACKTAIL DEER 

NO life can be pleasanter than life during the 
months of fall on a ranch in the northern 
cattle country. The weather is cool; in 
the evenings and on the rare rainy days we are 
glad to sit by the great fireplace, with its roaring 
Cottonwood logs. But on most days not a cloud 
dims the serene splendor of the sky ; and the fresh 
pure air is clear with the wonderful clearness of 
the high plains. We are in the saddle from morn- 
ing to night.. 

The long, low, roomy ranch-house, of clean 
hewed logs, is as comfortable as it is bare and 
plain. We fare simply but well; for the wife of 
my foreman makes excellent bread and cake, and 
there are plenty of potatoes grown in the forlorn 
little garden-patch on the bottom. We also have 
jellies and jams, made from wild plums and buf- 
falo berries ; and all the milk we can drink. For 
meat, we depend on our rifles ; and, with an occa- 
sional interlude of ducks or prairie-chickens, the 
mainstay of each meal is venison — roasted, 
broiled, or fried. 

24 



Hunting from the Ranch 25 

Sometimes we shoot the deer when we happen 
on them while about our ordinary business, — in- 
deed, throughout the time that I have Hved on 
the ranch, very many of the deer and antelope 
I killed were thus obtained. Of course, while 
doing the actual round-up work it is impossible 
to attend to anything else ; but we generally carry 
rifles while riding after the saddle band in the 
early morning, while visiting the line camps, or 
while in the saddle among the cattle on the range, 
and get many a shot in this fashion. 

In the fall of 1890 some friends came to my 
ranch ; and one day we took them to see a round- 
up. The OX, a Texan steer-outfit, had sent a 
couple of wagons to work down the river, after 
beef cattle, and one of my men had gone along 
to gather any of my own scattered steers that were 
ready for shipping, and to brand the late calves. 
There were perhaps a dozen riders with the 
wagons ; and they were camped for the day on a 
big bottom where Blacktail and Whitetail creeks 
open into the river, several miles below my ranch. 

At dawn one of the men rode off to bring in 
the saddle band. The rest of us were up by sun- 
rise; and as we stood on the verandah under the 
shimmering cotton wood trees, revelling in the 
blue and cloudless sky, and drinking in the cool 
air before going to breakfast, we saw the motley- 
colored string of ponies file down from the opposite 



26 The Wilderness Hunter 

bank of the river, and splash across the broad 
shallow ford in front of the ranch -house. Canter- 
ing and trotting, the band swept towards the high, 
round horse-corral, in the open glade to the rear 
of the house. Guided by the jutting wing which 
stuck out at right angles, they entered the open 
gate, which was promptly closed by the cowboy 
who had driven them in. 

After breakfast we strolled over to the corral, 
with our lariats, and, standing by the snubbing- 
post in the middle, roped the horses we wished for 
the party — some that were gentle, and others that 
'were not. Then every man saddled his horse ; and 
at the moment of mounting for the start there was, 
as always, a thrill of mild excitement, each rider 
hoping that his own horse would not buck, and 
that his neighbor's would. I had no young horses 
on the ranch at the time; but a number of the 
older ones still possessed some of the least amiable, 
traits of their youth. 

Once in the saddle we rode off down river, along 
the bottoms, crossing the stream again and again. 
We went in Indian file, as is necessary among the 
trees and in broken ground, following the cattle 
trails — which themselves had replaced or broad- 
ened the game paths that alone crossed the pla- 
teaus and bottoms when my ranch-house was first 
built. Now we crossed open reaches of coarse 
grass, thinly sprinkled with large, brittle cotton- 



Hunting from the Ranch 27 

wood trees, their branches torn and splintered; 
now we wound our way through a dense jungle 
where the gray, thorny buffalo bushes, spangled 
with brilliant red berry -clusters, choked the spaces 
between the thick-growing box-alders ; and again 
the sure-footed ponies scrambled down one cut 
bank and up another, through seemingly impos- 
sible rifts, or with gingerly footsteps trod a path 
which cut the side of a butte or overhung a bluff. 
Sometimes we racked, or shacked along at the 
fox trot which is the cow-pony's ordinary gait; 
and sometimes we loped or galloped and ran. 

At last we came to the ford beyond which the 
riders of the round-up had made their camp. In 
the bygone days of the elk and buffalo, when our 
branded cattle were first driven thus far north, 
this ford had been dangerous from quicksand; 
but the cattle, ever crossing and re-crossing, had 
trodden down and settled the sand, and had found 
out the firm places; so that it was now easy to 
get over. 

Close beyond the trees on the farther bank stood 
the two round-up wagons ; near by was the cook's 
fire, in a trench, so that it might not spread ; the 
bedding of the riders and horse-wranglers lay scat- 
tered about, each roll of blankets wrapped and 
corded in a stout canvas sheet. The cook was 
busy about the fire; the night-wrangler was 
snatching an hour or two 's sleep under one of 



28 The Wilderness Hunter 

the wagons. Half a mile away, on the plain of 
sage-brush and long grass, the day-wrangler was 
guarding the grazing ©r resting horse herd, of over 
a hundred head. Still farther distant, at the 
mouth of a ravine, was the day-herd of cattle, 
two or three cowboys watching it as they lolled 
drowsily in their saddles. The other riders were 
off on circles to bring in cattle to the round-up; 
they were expected every moment. 

With the ready hospitality always shown in 
a cow-camp we were pressed to alight and take 
dinner, or at least a lunch; and accordingly we 
jumped off our horses and sat down. Our tin 
plates were soon heaped with fresh beef, bread, 
tomatoes, rice, and potatoes, all very good; for 
the tall, bearded, scrawny cook knew his work, 
and the OX outfit always fed its men well — and 
saw that they worked well, too. 

Before noon the circle riders began to appear on 
the plain, coming out of the ravines, and scram- 
bling down the steep hills, singly or in twos and 
threes. They herded before them bunches of 
cattle, of varying size; these were driven to- 
gether and left in charge of a couple of cow- 
punchers. The other men rode to the wagon to 
get a hasty dinner — lithe, sinewy fellows, with 
weather-roughened faces and fearless eyes; their 
broad felt hats flapped as they galloped, and their 
spurs and bridle chains jingled. They rode well, 



Hunting from the Ranch 29 

with long stirrups, sitting straight in the deep 
stock saddles, and their wiry ponies showed no 
signs of fatigue from the long morning's ride. 

The horse-wrangler soon drove the saddle band 
to the wagons, where it was caught in a quickly 
improvised rope-corral. The men roped fresh 
horses, fitted for the cutting- work round the herd, 
with its attendant furious galloping and flash-like 
turning and twisting. In a few minutes all were 
in the saddle again and riding towards the cattle. 

Then began that scene of excitement and tur- 
moil, and seeming confusion, but real method and 
orderliness, so familiar to all who have engaged in 
stock-growing on the great plains. The riders 
gathered in a wide ring round the herd of uneasy 
cattle, and a couple of men rode into their midst 
to cut out the beef steers and the cows that were 
followed by unbranded calves. As soon as the 
animal was picked out the cowboy began to drive 
it slowly towards the outside of the herd, and 
when it was near the edge he suddenly raced it 
into the open. The beast would then start at 
full speed and try to double back among its fel- 
lows; while the trained cow-pony followed like a 
shadow, heading it off at every turn. The riders 
round that part of the herd opened out and the 
chosen animal was speedily hurried off to some 
spot, a few hundred yards distant, where it was 
left under charge of another cowboy. The latter 



30 The Wilderness Hunter 

at first had his hands full in preventing his charge 
from rejoining the herd ; for cattle dread nothing 
so much as being separated from their comrades. 
However, as soon as two or three others were 
driven out, enough to form a little bunch, it be- 
came a much easier matter to hold the *'cut," as 
it is called. The cows and calves were put in one 
place, the beeves in another; the latter were 
afterwards run into the day -herd. 

Meanwhile, from time to time some clean- 
limbed young steer or heifer, able to run like an 
antelope and double like a jack-rabbit, tried to 
break out of the herd that was being worked, 
when the nearest cowboy hurried in pursuit at top 
speed and brought it back, after a headlong, break- 
neck race, in which no heed was paid to brush, 
fallen timber, prairie-dog holes, or cut banks. The 
dust rose in little whirling clouds, and through it 
dashed bolting cattle and galloping cowboys, 
hither and thither, while the air was filled with the 
shouts and laughter of the men, and the bellowing 
of the herd. 

As soon as the herd was worked it was turned 
loose, while the cows and calves were driven over 
to a large corral, where the branding was done. A 
fire was speedily kindled, and in it were laid the 
branding-irons of the different outfits represented 
on the round-up. Then two of the best ropers 
rode into the corral and began to rope the calves, 



Hunting from the Ranch 31 

round the hind legs by preference, but sometimes 
round the head. The other men dismounted to 
*' wrestle" and brand them. Once roped, the 
calf, bawling and struggling, was swiftly dragged 
near the fire, where one or two of the calf -wrestlers 
grappled with and threw the kicking, plunging lit- 
tle beast, and held it while it was branded. If the 
calf was large the wrestlers had hard work; and 
one or two young maverick bulls — that is, un- 
branded yearling bulls, which had been passed by 
in the round-ups of the preceding year — fought 
viciously, bellowing and charging, and driving 
some of the men up the sides of the corral, to the 
boisterous delight of the others. 

After watching the work for a little while we 
left and rode homewards. Instead of going along 
the river bottoms we struck back over the buttes. 
From time to time we came out on some sharp 
bluff overlooking the river. From these points of 
vantage we could see for several miles up and 
down the valley of the Little Missouri. The 
level bottoms were walled in by rows of sheer 
cliffs, and steep, grassy slopes. These bluff lines 
were from a quarter of a mile to a mile apart; 
they did not run straight, but in a succession of 
curves, so as to look like the halves of many am- 
phitheatres. Between them the river swept in 
great bends from side to side ; the wide bed, brim- 
ful during the time of freshets, now held but a thin 



32 The Wilderness Hunter 

stream of water. Some of the bottoms were cov- 
ered only with grass and sage-brush ; others with a 
dense jungle of trees; while yet others looked 
like parks, the cottonwoods growing in curved 
lines or in clumps scattered here and there. 

On our way we came across a bunch of cattle, 
among which the sharp eyes of my foreman de- 
tected a maverick two-year-old heifer. He and 
one of the cowboys at once got down their ropes 
and rode after her ; the rest of us first rounding up 
the bunch so as to give a fair start. After a sharp 
run, one of the men, swinging his lariat round his 
head, got close up ; in a second or two the noose 
settled round the heifer's neck, and as it became 
taut she was brought to with a jerk; immediately 
afterwards the other man made his throw and 
cleverly heeled her. In a trice the red heifer was 
stretched helpless on the ground, the two fierce 
little ponies, a pinto and a buckskin, keeping her 
down on their own account, tossing their heads 
and backing so that the ropes which led from the 
saddle-horns to her head and hind feet never 
slackened. Then we kindled a fire; one of the 
cinch rings was taken off to serve as a branding- 
iron, and the heifer speedily became our property 
— for she was on our range. 

When we reached the ranch it was still early, 
and after finishing dinner it lacked over an hour 
of sundown. Accordingly, we went for another 



Hunting from the Ranch 33 

ride; and I carried my rifle. We started up a 
winding coulie which opened back of the ranch- 
house; and after half an hour's canter clambered 
up the steep head-ravines, and emerged on a high 
ridge which went westward, straight as an arrow, 
to the main divide between the Little Missouri 
and the Big Beaver. Along this narrow, grassy 
crest we loped and galloped ; we were so high that 
we could look far and wide over all the country 
round about. To the southward, across a dozen 
leagues of rolling and broken prairie, loomed 
Sentinel Butte, the chief landmark of all that re- 
gion. Behind us, beyond the river, rose the weird 
chaos of Bad Lands which at this point lie for 
many miles east of the Little Missouri. Their 
fantastic outlines were marked against the sky as 
sharply as if cut with a knife ; their grim and for- 
bidding desolation warmed into wonderful beauty 
by the light of the dying sun. On our right, as we 
loped onwards, the land sunk away in smooth 
green-clad slopes and valleys; on our left it fell 
in sheer walls. Ahead of us the sun was sinking 
behind a mass of blood-red clouds ; and on either 
hand the flushed skies were changing their tint to 
a hundred hues of opal and amethyst. Our tire- 
less little horses sprang under us, thrilling with 
life; we were riding through a fairy world of 
beauty and color and limitless space and freedom. 
Suddenly, a short hundred yards in front, three 

VOL. I. — 3. 



34 The Wilderness Hunter 

blacktail leaped out of a little glen and crossed our 
path, with the peculiar bounding gait of their 
kind. At once I sprang from my horse and, 
kneeling, fired at the last and largest of the three. 
My bullet sped too far back, but struck near the 
hip, and the crippled deer went slowly down a 
ravine. Running over a hillock to cut it off, I 
found it in some brush a few hundred yards be- 
yond and finished it with a second ball. Quickly 
dressing it, I packed it on my horse, and trotted 
back leading him; an hour afterwards we saw 
through the waning light the quaint, home-like 
outlines of the ranch-house. 

After all, however, blacktail can only at times be 
picked up by chance in this way. More often it is 
needful to kill them by fair still-hunting, among 
the hills or wooded mountains where they delight 
to dwell. If hunted, they speedily become wary. 
By choice they live in such broken country that 
it is difficult to pursue them with hounds; and 
they are by no means such water-loving animals 
as whitetail. On the other hand, the land in 
which they dwell is very favorable to the still 
hunter who does not rely merely on stealth, but 
who can walk and shoot well. They do not go on 
the open prairie, and, if possible, they avoid deep 
forests, while, being good climbers, they like hills- 
In the mountains, therefore, they keep to what is 
called park country, where glades alternate with 



The Blacktail Deer 35 

open groves. On the great plains they avoid both 
the heavily timbered river bottoms and the vast 
treeless stretches of level or rolling grass-land; 
their chosen abode being the broken and hilly re- 
gion, scantily wooded, which skirts almost every 
plains river and forms a belt — sometimes very nar- 
row, sometimes many miles in breadth — between 
the alluvial bottom land and the prairies beyond. 
In these Bad Lands dwarfed pines and cedars 
grow in the canyon-like ravines and among the 
high steep hills ; there are also basins and winding 
coulies, filled with brush and shrubbery and small 
elm or ash. In all such places the blacktail loves 
to make its home. 

I have not often hunted blacktail in the moun- 
tains, because while there I was generally after 
larger game ; but around my ranch I have killed 
more of them than of any other game, and for me 
their chase has always possessed a peculiar charm. 
We hunt them in the loveliest season of the year, 
the fall and early winter, when it is keen pleasure 
merely to live out of doors. Sometimes we make 
a regular trip, of several days' duration, taking 
the ranch -wagon, with or without a tent, to some 
rugged and little disturbed spot where the deer 
are plenty; perhaps returning with eight or ten 
carcasses, or even more — enough to last a long 
while in cold weather. We often make such trips 
while laying in our winter supply of meat. 



36 The Wilderness Hunter 

At other times we hunt directly from the ranch- 
house. We catch our horses overnight, and are 
in the saddle for an all-day's hunt long before the 
first streak of dawn, possibly not returning until 
some hours after nightfall. The early morning 
and late evening are the best times for hunting 
game, except in regions where it is hardly ever 
molested, and where in consequence it moves 
about more or less throughout the day. 

During the rut, which begins in September, the 
deer are in constant motion, and are often found 
in bands. The necks of the bucks swell and their 
sides grow gaunt; they chase the does all night 
and their flesh becomes strong and stringy — far 
inferior to that of the barren does and yearlings. 
The old bucks then wage desperate conflicts with 
one another, and bully their smaller brethren un- 
mercifully. Unlike the elk, the blacktail, like the 
whitetail, are generally silent in the rutting season. 
They occasionally grunt when fighting ; and once, 
on a fall evening, I heard two young bucks bark- 
ing in a ravine back of my ranch-house, and crept 
up and shot them; but this was a wholly excep- 
tional instance. 

At this time I hunt on foot, only using the horse 
to carry me to and from the hunting-ground ; for 
while rutting, the deer, being restless, do not try 
to escape observation by lying still, and on the 
other hand are apt to wander about and so are 



The Blacktail Deer 37 

easily seen from a distance. When I have 
reached a favorable place I picket my horse and 
go from vantage point to vantage point, carefully 
scanning the hillsides, ravines, and brush coulies 
from every spot that affords a wide outlook. The 
quarry once seen, it may be a matter of hours, or 
only of minutes, to approach it, accordingly as the 
wind and cover are or are not favorable. The 
walks for many miles over the hills, the exercise 
of constant watchfulness, the excitement of the 
actual stalk, and the still greater excitement of 
the shot, combine to make still-hunting the black- 
tail, in the sharp fall weather, one of the most 
attractive of hardy outdoor sports. Then, after 
the long, stumbling walk homewards, through the 
cool gloom of the late evening, comes the meal of 
smoking venison and milk and bread, and the 
sleepy rest, lying on the bear-skins, or sitting in 
the rocking-chair before the roaring fire, while 
the icy wind moans outside. 

Earlier in the season, while the does are still 
nursing the fawns, and until the bucks have 
cleaned the last vestiges of velvet from their ant- 
lers, the deer lie very close, and wander round as 
little as may be. In the spring and early summer, 
in the ranch country, we hunt big game very 
little, and then only antelope ; because in hunting 
antelope there is no danger of killing aught but 
bucks. About the first of August we begin tc 



38 The Wilderness Hunter 

hunt blacktail, but do not kill does until a month 
later — and then only when short of meat. In the 
early weeks of the deer season we frequently do 
even the actual hunting on horseback instead of 
on foot; because the deer at this time rarely ap- 
pear in view, so as to afford chance for a stalk, 
and yet are reluctant to break cover until very 
closely approached. In consequence, we keep on 
our horses, and so get over much more ground 
than on foot, beating through or beside all likely 
looking cover, with the object of jumping the deer 
close by. Under such circumstances bucks some- 
times lie until almost trodden on. 

One afternoon in mid- August, when the ranch 
was entirely out of meat, I started with one of 
my cow-hands, Merrifield, to kill a deer. We were 
on a couple of stout, quiet ponies, accustomed to 
firing and to packing game. After riding a mile 
or two down the bottoms we left the river and 
struck off up a winding valley, which led back 
among the hills. In a short while we were in a 
blacktail country, and began to keep a sharp look- 
out for game, riding parallel to, but some little 
distance from, one another. The sun, beating 
down through the clear air, was very hot; the 
brown slopes of short grass, and still more the 
white clay walls of the Bad Lands, threw the heat 
rays in our faces. We skirted closely all likely- 
looking spots, such as the heavy brush-patches in 



The Blacktail Deer 39 

the bottoms of the winding valleys, and the groves 
of ash and elm in the basins and pockets flanking 
the high plateaus ; sometimes we followed a cattle 
trail which ran down the middle of a big washout, 
and again we rode along the brink of a deep cedar 
canyon. After a while we came to a coulie with 
a small muddy pool at its mouth ; and round this 
pool there was much fresh deer sign. The coulie 
was but half a mile long, heading into and flanked 
by the spurs of some steep, bare hills. Its bot- 
tom, which was fifty yards or so across, was 
choked by a dense growth of brush, chiefly thorny 
bullberries, while the sides were formed by cut 
banks twelve or fifteen feet high. My companion 
rode up the middle, while I scrambled up one of 
the banks, and, dismounting, led my horse along 
its edge, that I might have a clear shot at what- 
ever we roused. We went nearly to the head, and 
then the cowboy reined up and shouted to me that 
he "guessed there were no deer in the coulie." 
Instantly there was a smashing in the young trees 
midway between us, and I caught a glimpse of 
a blacktail buck speeding round a shoulder of 
the cut bank: and though I took a hurried shot 
I missed. However, another buck promptly 
jumped up from the same place; evidently, the 
two had lain secure in their day-beds, shielded by 
the dense cover, while the cowboy rode by them, 
and had only risen when he halted and began to 



40 The Wilderness Hunter 

call to me across them. This second buck, a fine 
fellow with big antlers not yet clear of velvet, 
luckily ran up the opposite bank and I got a fair 
shot at him as he galloped broadside to me along 
the open hillside. When I fired he rolled over 
with a broken back. As we came up he bleated 
loudly, an unusual thing for a buck to do. 

Now, these two bucks must have heard us com- 
ing, but reckoned on our passing them by with- 
out seeing them ; which we would have done had 
they not been startled when the cowboy halted 
and spoke. Later in the season they would prob- 
ably not have let us approach them, but would 
have run as soon as they knew of our presence. 
Of course, however, even later in the season a 
man may by chance stumble across a deer close 
by. I remember one occasion when my ranch 
partner, Robert Munro Ferguson, and I almost 
corralled an unlucky deer in a small washout. 

It was October, and our meat supply unexpect- 
edly gave out ; on our ranch, as on most ranches, 
an occasional meat famine of three or four days 
intervenes between the periods of plenty. So 
Ferguson and I started together to get venison; 
and at the end of two days' hard work, leaving the 
ranch by sunrise, riding to the hunting-grounds 
and tramping steadily until dark, we succeeded. 
The weather was stormy and there were continual 
gusts of wind and of cold rain, sleet, or snow. 



The Blacktail Deer 41 

We hunted through a large tract of rough and 
broken country, six or eight miles from the ranch. 
As often happens in such wild weather, the deer 
were wild too; they were watchful and were on 
the move all the time. We saw a number, but 
either they ran off before we could get a shot, or 
if we did fire it was at such a distance or under 
such unfavorable circumstances that we missed. 
At last, as we were plodding drearily up a bare 
valley, the sodden mud caking round our shoes, 
we roused three deer from the mouth of a short 
washout but a few paces from us. Two bounded 
off; the third by mistake rushed into the wash- 
out, where he found himself in a regular trap and 
was promptly shot by my companion. We slung 
the carcass on a pole and carried it down to where 
we had left the horses ; and then we loped home- 
wards, bending to the cold slanting rain. 

Although in places where it is much persecuted 
the blacktail is a shy and wary beast, the success- 
ful pursuit of which taxes to the uttermost the 
skill and energy of the hunter, yet, like the elk, 
if little molested it often shows astonishing tame- 
ness and even stupidity. In the Rockies I have 
sometimes come on blacktail within a very short 
distance, which would merely stare at me, then 
trot off a few yards, turn and stare again, and 
wait for several minutes before really taking alarm. 
What is much more extraordinary, I have had the 



42 The Wilderness Hunter 

same thing happen to me in certain Httle hunted 
locaHties in the neighborhood of my ranch, even 
of recent years. In the fall of 1890, 1 was riding 
down a canyon-coulie with my foreman, Sylvane 
Ferris, and a young friend from Boston, when we 
almost rode over a barren blacktail doe. She only 
ran some fifty yards, round a corner of the coulie, 
and then turned and stood until we ran forward 
and killed her — for we were in need of fresh meat. 
One October, a couple of years before this, my 
cousin, West Roosevelt, and I took a. trip with 
the wagon to a very wild and rugged country, 
some twenty miles from the ranch. We found 
that the deer had evidently been but little dis- 
turbed. One day while scrambling down a steep, 
brushy hill, leading my horse, I came close on' a 
doe and fawn; they merely looked at me with 
curiosity for some time, and then sauntered slowly 
off, remaining within shot for at least five min- 
utes. Fortunately, we had plenty of meat at the 
time, and there was no necessity to harm the 
graceful creatures. A few days later we came on 
two bucks sunning themselves in the bottom of 
a valley. My companion killed one. The other 
was lying but a dozen rods off ; yet it never moved, 
until several shots had been fired at the first. It 
was directly under me, and in my anxiety to avoid 
overshooting, to my horror I committed the op- 
posite fault, and away went the buck. 



The Blacktail Deer 43 

Every now and then any one will make most 
unaccountable misses. A few days after thus 
losing the buck, I spent nearly twenty cartridges 
in butchering an unfortunate yearling, and only 
killed it at all because it became so bewildered by 
the firing that it hardly tried to escape. I never 
could tell why I used so many cartridges to such 
little purpose. During the next fortnight I killed 
seven deer without making a single miss, though 
some of the shots were rather difficult. 



CHAPTER III 

THE WHITETAIL DEER; AND THE BLACKTAIL OF 
THE COLUMBIA 

THE whitetail deer is much the commonest 
game animal of the United States, being 
still found, though generally in greatly 
diminished numbers, throughout most of the 
Union. It is a shrewd, wary, knowing beast ; but 
it owes its prolonged stay in the land chiefly to 
the fact that it is an inveterate skulker, and fond 
of the thickest cover. Accordingly, it usually has 
to be killed by stealth and stratagem, and not by 
fair, manly hunting; being quite easily slain in 
any one of half a dozen unsportsmanlike ways. 
In consequence, I care less for its chase than for 
the chase of any other kind of American big game. 
Yet in the few places where it dwells in open, hilly 
forests, and can be killed by still-hunting as if it 
were a blacktail — or, better still, where the nature 
of the ground is such that it can be run down in 
fair chase on horseback, either with greyhounds 
or with a pack of trackhounds, it yields splendid 
sport. 

Killing a deer from a boat while the poor ani- 

44 



The Whitetail Deer 45 

mal is swimming in the water, or on snow-shoes 
as it flounders helplessly in the deep drifts, can 
only be justified on the plea of hunger. This is 
also true of lying in wait at a lick. Whoever in- 
dulges in any of these methods save from neces- 
sity, is a butcher, pure and simple, and has no 
business in the company of true sportsmen. 

Fire hunting may be placed in the same cate- 
gory; yet it is possibly allowable under excep- 
tional circumstances to indulge in a fire hunt, if 
only for the sake of seeing the wilderness by torch- 
light. My first attempt at big-game shooting, 
when a boy, was ''jacking" for deer in the Adi- 
rondacks, on a pond or small lake surrounded by 
the grand northern forests of birch and beech, 
pine, spruce, and fir. I killed a spike buck ; and 
while I have never been willing to kill another in 
this manner, I cannot say that I regret having 
once had the experience. The ride over the 
glassy, black water, the witchcraft of such silent 
progress through the mystery of the night, cannot 
but impress one. There is pleasure in the mere 
buoyant gliding of the birch-bark canoe, with its 
curved bow and stern; nothing else that floats 
possesses such grace, such frail and delicate beauty 
as this true craft of the wilderness, which is as 
much a creature of the wild woods as the deer and 
bear themselves. The light streaming from the 
bark lantern in the bow cuts a glaring lane through 



46 The Wilderness Hunter 

the gloom ; in it all objects stand out like magic, 
shining for a moment white and ghastly and then 
vanishing into the impenetrable darkness; while 
all the time the paddler in the stem makes not so 
much as a ripple, and there is never a sound but 
the occasional splash of a muskrat, or the moan- 
ing uloo-oo — uloo-uloo of an owl from the deep 
forests, and at last, perchance, the excitement of 
a shot at a buck, standing at gaze, with luminous 
eyeballs. 

The most common method of killing the white- 
tail is by hounding; that is, by driving it with 
hounds past runways where hunters are stationed 
— for all wild animals when on the move prefer 
to follow certain definite routes. This is a legiti- 
mate, but inferior, kind of sport. 

However, even killing driven deer may be good 
fun at certain times. Most of the whitetail we 
kill round the ranch are obtained in this fashion. 
On the Little Missouri — as throughout the plains 
country generally — these deer cling to the big 
wooded river bottoms, while the blacktail are 
found in the broken country back from the river. 
The tangled mass of cottonwoods, box-alders, and 
thorny bullberry bushes which cover the bottoms 
afford the deer a nearly secure shelter from the 
still-hunter; and it is only by the aid of hounds 
that they can be driven from their wooded fast- 
nesses. They hold their own better than any 



The Whitetail Deer 47 

other game. The great herds of buffalo and the 
bands of elk have vanished completely; the 
swarms of antelope and blacktail have been wo- 
fuUy thinned ; but the whitetail, which were never 
found in such throngs as either buffalo or elk, 
blacktail or antelope, have suffered far less from 
the advent of the white hunters, ranchmen, and 
settlers. They are, of course, not as plentiful as 
formerly ; but some are still to be found in almost 
all their old haunts. Where the river, winding 
between rows of high buttes, passes my ranch- 
house, there is a long succession of heavily -wooded 
bottoms; and on all of these, even on the one 
whereon the house itself stands, there are a good 
many whitetail yet left. 

When we take a day's regular hunt we usually 
wander afar, either to the hills after blacktail or 
to the open prairie after antelope. But if we are 
short of meat, and yet have no time for a regular 
hunt, being perhaps able to spare only a couple 
of hours after the day's work is over, then all 
hands turn out to drive a bottom for whitetail. 
We usually have one or two trackhounds at the 
ranch ; true southern deerhounds, black and tan, 
with lop ears and hanging lips, their wrinkled faces 
stamped with an expression of almost ludicrous 
melancholy. They are not fast, and have none 
of the alert look of the pied and spotted modem 
foxhound; but their noses are very keen, their 



48 The Wilderness Hunter 

voices deep and mellow, and they are wonderfully 
staunch on a trail. 

All is bustle and laughter as we start on such a 
hunt. The baying hounds bound about as the 
rifles are taken down; the wiry ponies are roped 
out of the corral, and each broad-hatted hunter 
swings joyfully into the saddle. If the pony 
bucks or " acts mean" the rider finds that his rifle 
adds a new element of interest to the perform- 
ance, which is, of course, hailed with loud delight 
by all the men on quiet horses. Then we splash 
off over the river, scramble across the faces of the 
bluffs, or canter along the winding cattle paths, 
through the woods, until we come to the bottom 
we intend to hunt. Here a hunter is stationed at 
each runway along which it is deemed likely that 
the deer will pass; and one man, who has re- 
mained on horseback, starts into the cover with 
the hounds; occasionally this horseman himself, 
skilled, as most cowboys are, in the use of the re- 
volver, gets a chance to kill a deer. The deep 
baying of the hounds speedily gives warning that 
the game is afoot ; and the watching hunters, who 
have already hid their horses carefully, look to 
their rifles. Sometimes the deer comes far ahead 
of the dogs, running very swiftly with neck 
stretched straight out ; and if the cover is thick, 
such an animal is hard to hit. At other times, 
especially if the quarry is a young buck, it plays 



The Whitetail Deer 49 

along not very far ahead of its baying pursuers, 
bounding and strutting with head up and white 
flag flaunting. If struck hard, down goes the flag 
at once, and the deer plunges into a staggering 
run, while the hounds yell with eager ferocity as 
they follow the bloody trail. Usually we do not 
have to drive more than one or two bottoms be- 
fore getting a deer, which is forthwith packed 
behind one of the riders, as the distance is not 
great, and home we come in triumph. Some- 
times, however, we fail to find game, or the deer 
take unguarded passes, or the shot is missed. 
Occasionally I have killed deer on these hunts; 
generally I have merely sat still a long while, lis- 
tened to the hounds, and at last heard somebody 
else shoot. In fact, such hunting, though good 
enough fun if only tried rarely, would speedily 
pall if followed at all regularly. 

Personally, the chief excitement I have had in 
connection therewith has arisen from some antic 
of my horse; a half -broken bronco is apt to be- 
come unnerved when a man with a gun tries to 
climb on him in a hurry. On one hunt, in 1890, 
I rode a wild animal named Whitefoot. He had 
been a confirmed and very bad bucker three 
years before, when I had him in my string on 
the round-up ; but had grown quieter with years. 
Nevertheless, I found he had some fire left ; for a 
hasty vault into the saddle on my part was 



50 The Wilderness Hunter 

followed on his by some very resolute pitching. I 
lost my rifle and hat, and my revolver and knife 
were bucked out of my belt; but I kept my 
seat all right, and finally got his head up and 
mastered him without letting him throw himself 
over backwards, a trick he sometimes practised. 
Nevertheless, in the first jump, when I was taken 
unawares, I strained myself across the loins, and 
did not get entirely over it for six months. 

To shoot running game with the rifle, it is al- 
ways necessary to be a good and quick marksman ; 
for it is never easy to kill an animal, when in rapid 
motion, with a single bullet. If on a runway, a 
man who is a fairly skilful rifleman has plenty of 
time for a clear shot, on open ground, at com- 
paratively short distance, say under eighty yards, 
and if the deer is cantering he ought to hit; at 
least, I generally do under such circumstances, by 
remembering to hold well forward — in fact, just in 
front of the deer's chest. But I do not always 
kill, by any means ; quite often when I thought I 
held far enough ahead, my bullet has gone into 
the buck's hips or loins. However, one great 
feature in the use of dogs is that they enable one 
almost always to recover wounded game. 

If the animal is running at full speed a long 
distance off, the difficulty of hitting is, of course, 
very much increased ; and if the country is open 
the value of a repeating rifle is then felt. If the 



The Whitetail Deer 51 

game is bounding over logs or dodging through 
underbrush, the difficuhy is again increased. 
Moreover, the natural gait of the different kinds 
of game must be taken into account. Of course, 
the larger kinds, such as elk and moose, are the 
easiest to hit; then comes the antelope, in spite 
of its swiftness, and the sheep, because of the even- 
ness of their running ; then the whitetail, with its 
rolling gallop; and last and hardest of all, the 
blacktail, because of its extraordinary stiff -legged 
bounds. 

Sometimes on a runway the difficulty is not that 
the game is too far, but that it is too close ; for a 
deer may actually almost jump on the hunter, 
surprising him out of all accuracy of aim. Once 
something of the sort happened to me. 

Winter was just beginning. I had been off with 
the ranch-wagon on a last round-up of the beef 
steers ; and had suffered a good deal, as one always 
does on these cold- weather round-ups, sleeping 
out in the snow, wrapped up in blankets and tar- 
paulin, with no tent and generally no fire. More- 
over, I became so weary of the interminable 
length of the nights, that I almost ceased to mind 
the freezing misery of standing night-guard round 
the restless cattle; while roping, saddling, and 
mastering the rough horses each morning, with 
numbed and stiffened limbs, though warming to 
the blood, was harrowing to the temper. 



52 The Wilderness Hunter 

On my return to the ranch I found a strange 
hunter staying there — a clean, square-built, hon- 
est-looking little fellow, but evidently not a native 
American. As a rule, nobody displays much curi- 
osity about any one's else antecedents in the Far 
West; but I happened to ask my foreman who 
the newcomer was, — chiefly because the said new- 
comer, evidently appreciating the warmth and 
comfort of the clean, roomy, ranch-house, with 
its roaring fires, books, and good fare, seemed in- 
clined to make a permanent stay, according to the 
custom of the country. My foreman, who had a 
large way of looking at questions of foreign eth- 
nology and geography, responded with indiffer- 
ence: *'0h, he's a kind of a Dutchman; but he 
hates the other Dutch, mortal. He's from an 
island Germany took from France in the last 
war!" This seemed puzzling; but it turned out 
that the "island" in question was Alsace. Na- 
tive Americans predominate among the dwellers 
in and on the borders of the wilderness, and in the 
wild country over which the great herds of the 
cattlemen roam ; and they take the lead in every 
way. The sons of the Germans, Irish, and other 
European newcomers are usually quick to claim 
to be "straight United States," and to disavow 
all kinship with the fellow-countrymen of their 
fathers. Once, while with a hunter bearing a 
German name, we came by chance on a German 



The Whitetail Deer 53 

hunting party from one of the eastern cities. One 
of them remarked to my companion that he must 
be part German himself, to which he cheerfully 
answered: "Well, my father was a Dutchman, 
but my mother was a white woman ! I 'm pretty 
white myself!" whereat the Germans glowered at 
him gloomily. 

As we were out of meat, the Alsatian and one 
of the cowboys and I started down the river with 
a wagon. The first day in camp it rained hard, 
so that we could not hunt. Towards evening we 
grew tired of doing nothing, and as the rain had 
become a mere fine drizzle, we sallied out to drive 
one of the bottoms for whitetail. The cowboy 
and our one trackhound plunged into the young 
Cottonwood, which grew thickly over the sandy 
bottom; while the little hunter and I took our 
stands on a cut bank, twenty feet high and half 
a mile long, which hedged in the trees from be- 
hind. Three or four game trails led up through 
steep, narrow clefts in this bank ; and we tried to 
watch these. Soon I saw a deer in an opening 
below, headed towards one end of the bank, 
round which another game trail led; and I ran 
hard towards this end, where it turned into a 
knife-like ridge of clay. About fifty yards from 
the point there must have been some slight irreg- 
ularities in the face of the bank, enough to give 
the deer a foothold ; for as I ran along the animal 



54 The Wilderness Hunter 

suddenly bounced over the crest, so close that I 
could have hit it with my right hand. As I tried 
to pull up short and swing round, my feet slipped 
from under me in the wet clay, and down I went ; 
while the deer literally turned a terrified somer- 
sault backwards. I flung myself to the edge and 
missed a hurried shot as it raced back on its track. 
Then, wheeling, I saw the little hunter running 
towards me along the top of the cut bank, his 
face on a broad grin. He leaped over one of the 
narrow clefts, up which a game trail led; and 
hardly was he across before the frightened deer 
bolted up it, not three yards from his back. He 
did not turn, in spite of my shouting and hand- 
waving, and the frightened deer, in the last stage 
of panic at finding itself again almost touching 
one of its foes, sped off across the grassy slopes 
like a quarter horse. When at last the hunter 
did turn, it was too late ; and our long-range fusil- 
lade proved harmless. During the next two days 
I redeemed myself, killing four deer. 

Coming back, our wagon broke down, no un- 
usual incident in ranchland, where there is often 
no road, while the strain is great in hauling 
through quicksands, and up or across steep, 
broken hills ; it rarely makes much difference be- 
yond the temporary delay, for plainsmen and 
mountainmen are very handy and self-helpful. 
Besides, a mere breakdown sinks into nothing 



The Whitetail Deer 55 

compared to having the team play out ; which is, 
of course, most apt to happen at the times when 
it insures hardship and suffering, as in the middle 
of a snowstorm, or when crossing a region with 
no water. However, the reinsmen of the plains 
must needs face many such accidents, not to speak 
of runaways, or having the wagon pitchpole over 
on to the team in dropping down too steep a hill- 
side. Once, after a three days' rainstorm, some of 
us tried to get the ranch -wagon along a trail which 
led over the ridge of a gumbo or clay butte. The 
sticky stuff clogged our shoes, the horses' hoofs, 
and the wheels; and it was even more slippery 
than it was sticky. Finally, we struck a sloping 
shoulder ; with great struggling, pulling, pushing, 
and shouting, we reached the middle of it, and 
then, as one of my men remarked, ''the whole 
darned outfit slid into the coulie." 

These hunting trips after deer or antelope with 
the wagon usually take four or five days. I al- 
ways ride some tried hunting-horse; and the 
wagon itself, when on such a hunt, is apt to lead 
a chequered career, as half the time there is not 
the vestige of a trail to follow. Moreover, we 
often make a hunt when the good horses are on 
the round-up, or otherwise employed, and we have 
to get together a scrub team of cripples or else 
of outlaws — vicious devils, only used from dire 
need. The best teamster for such a hunt that 



56 The Wilderness Hunter 

we ever had on the ranch was a weather-beaten 
old fellow, known as "Old Man Tompkins." 
In the course of a long career as lumberman, 
plains teamster, buffalo - hunter, and Indian 
fighter, he had passed several years as a Rocky 
Mountain stage-driver; and a stage-driver of the 
Rockies is of necessity a man of such skill and 
nerve that he fears no team and no country. No 
matter how wild the unbroken horses. Old Tomp- 
kins never asked help ; and he hated to drive less 
than a four-in-hand. When he once had a grip 
on the reins, he let no one hold the horses' heads. 
All he wished was an open plain for the rush at 
the beginning. The first plunge might take the 
wheelers' forefeet over the crossbars of the 
leaders, but he never stopped for that ; on went 
the team, running, bounding, rearing, tumbling, 
while the wagon leaped behind, until gradually 
things straightened out of their own accord. I 
soon found, however, that I could not allow him 
to carry a rifle; for he was an inveterate game 
butcher. In the presence of game the old fellow 
became fairly wild with excitement, and forgot 
the years and rheumatism which had crippled 
him. Once, after a long and tiresome day's hunt, 
we were walking home together ; he was carrying 
his boots in his hands, bemoaning the fact that 
his feet hurt him. Suddenly a whitetail jumped 
up; down dropped Old Tompkins's boots, and 



The White tail Deer 57 

away he went like a college sprinter, entirely 
heedless of stones and cactus. By some indis- 
criminate firing at long range we dropped the deer ; 
and as Old Tompkins cooled down he realized 
that his bare feet had paid full penalty for his dash. 
One of these wagon trips I remember because 
I missed a fair running shot which I much de- 
sired to hit, and afterwards hit a very much more 
difficult shot about which I cared very little. 
Ferguson and I, with Sylvane and one or two 
others, had gone a day's journey down the river 
for a hunt. We went along the bottoms, cross- 
ing the stream every mile or so, with an occasional 
struggle through mud or quicksand, or up the 
steep, rotten banks. An old buffalo-hunter drove 
the wagon, with a couple of shaggy, bandy-legged 
ponies; the rest of us jogged along in front on 
horseback, picking out a trail through the bot- 
toms and choosing the best crossing-places. Some 
of the bottoms were grassy pastures ; on others, 
great, gnarled cotton woods, with shivered branches, 
stood in clumps; yet others were choked with a 
true forest growth. Late in the afternoon we 
went into camp, choosing a spot where the cotton- 
woods were young; their glossy leaves trembled 
and rustled unceasingly. We speedily picketed 
the horses, — changing them about as they ate 
off the grass, — drew water, and hauled great logs 
in front of where we had pitched the tent, while 



58 The Wilderness Hunter 

the wagon stood nearby. Each man laid out his 
bed ; the food and kitchen kit were taken from 
the wagon; supper was cooked and eaten; and 
we then lay round the camp-fire, gazing into it, or 
up at the brilliant stars, and listening to the wild, 
mournful wailing of the coyotes. They were very 
plentiful round this camp; before sunrise and 
after sundown they called unceasingly. 

Next day I took a long tramp and climb after 
mountain sheep and missed a running shot at a 
fine ram, about a hundred yards off; or, rather, 
I hit him and followed his bloody trail a couple 
of miles, but failed to find him; whereat I re- 
turned to camp much cast down. 

Early the following morning, Sylvane and I 
started for another hunt, this time on horseback. 
The air was crisp and pleasant ; the beams of the 
just-risen sun struck sharply on the umber-col- 
ored hills and white cliff walls guarding the river, 
bringing into high relief their strangely carved and 
channelled fronts. Below camp the river was 
little but a succession of shallow pools strung 
along the broad, sandy bed, which in springtime 
was filled from bank to bank with foaming muddy 
water. Two mallards sat in one of these pools; 
and I hit one with the rifle, so nearly missing that 
the ball scarcely ruffled a feather; yet in some 
way the shock told, for the bird, after flying thirty 
yards, dropped on the sand. 



The Whitetail Deer 59 

Then we left the river and our active ponies 
scrambled up a small canyon-like break in the 
bluffs. All day we rode among the hills; some- 
times across rounded slopes, matted with short 
buffalo grass; sometimes over barren buttes of 
red or white clay, where only sage-brush and cac- 
tus grew; or beside deep ravines, black with 
stunted cedar ; or along beautiful winding coulies, 
where the grass grew rankly, and the thickets of 
ash and wild plum made brilliant splashes of red 
and yellow and tender green. Yet we saw nothing. 

As evening drew on, we rode riverwards; we 
slid down the steep bluff walls, and loped across a 
great bottom of sage-brush and tall grass, our 
horses now and then leaping like cats over the 
trunks of dead cottonwoods. As we came to the 
brink of the cut bank which forms the hither 
boundary of the river in freshet time, we suddenly 
saw two deer, a doe and a well-grown fawn — of 
course, long out of the spotted coat. They were 
walking with heads down along the edge of a sand- 
bar, near a pool, on the farther side of the stream 
bed, over two hundred yards distant. They saw 
us at once, and turning, galloped away with 
flags aloft, the pictures of springing, vigorous 
beauty. I jumped off my horse in an instant, 
knelt, and covered the fawn. It was going 
straight away from me, running very evenly, and 
I drew a coarse sight at the tip of the white flag. 



6o The Wilderness Hunter 

As I pulled trigger down went the deer, the ball 
having gone into the back of its head. The dis- 
tance was a good three hundred yards ; and while, 
of course, there was much more chance than skill 
in the shot, I felt well pleased with it — though I 
could not help a regret that while making such a 
difficult shot at a mere whitetail, I should have 
missed a much easier shot at a noble bighorn. 
Not only I, but all the camp, had a practical in- 
terest in my success; for we had no fresh meat, 
and a fat whitetail fawn, killed in October, yields 
the best of venison. So, after dressing the deer, 
I slung the carcass behind my saddle, and we rode 
swiftly back to camp through the dark ; and that 
evening we feasted on the juicy roasted ribs. 

The degree of tameness and unsuspiciousness 
shown by whitetail deer depends, of course, upon 
the amount of molestation to which they are ex- 
posed. Their times for sleeping, feeding, and com- 
ing to water, vary from the same cause. Where 
they are little persecuted they feed long after sim- 
rise and before sunset, and drink when the sun is 
high in the heavens, sometimes even at midday; 
they then show but little fear of man, and speed- 
ily become indifferent to the presence of deserted 
dwellings. 

In the cattle country the ranch-houses are often 
shut during the months of warm weather, when 
the round-ups succeed one another without inter- 



The Whitetail Deer 6i 

mission, as the calves must be branded, the beeves 
gathered and shipped, long trips made to collect 
strayed animals, and the trail stock driven from 
the breeding- to the fattening-grounds. At that 
time all the menfolk may have to be away in the 
white-topped wagons, working among the homed 
herds, whether plodding along the trail, or wan- 
dering to and fro on the range. Late one sum- 
mer, when my own house had been thus closed 
for many months, I rode thither with a friend to 
pass a week. The place already wore the look of 
having slipped away from the domain of man. 
The wild forces, barely thrust back beyond the 
threshhold of our habitation, were prompt to 
spring across it to renewed possession the moment 
we withdrew. The rank grass grew tall in the 
yard and on the sodded roofs of the stable and 
sheds ; the weather-beaten log walls of the house 
itself were one in tint with the trunks of the 
gnarled cotton woods by which it was shaded. 
Evidently, the woodland creatures had come to 
regard the silent, deserted buildings as mere out- 
growths of the wilderness, no more to be feared 
than the trees around them, or the gray, strangely- 
shaped buttes behind. 

Lines of delicate, heart-shaped footprints in the 
muddy reaches of the half -dry river-bed showed 
where the deer came to water ; and in the dusky 
cattle trails among the ravines many round tracks 



62 The Wilderness Hunter 

betrayed the passing and repassing of timber 
wolves, — once or twice in the late evening we lis- 
tened to their savage and melancholy howling. 
Cottontail rabbits burrowed under the verandah. 
Within doors the bushy -tailed pack-rats had pos- 
session, and at night they held a perfect witches' 
sabbath in the garret and kitchen; while a little 
white-footed mouse, having dragged half the stuf- 
fing out of a mattress, had made thereof a big 
fluffy nest, entirely filling the oven. ' 

Yet, in spite of the abundant sign of game, we 
at first suffered under one of those spells of ill- 
luck which at times befall all hunters, and for 
several days we could kill nothing, though we 
tried hard, being in need of fresh meat. The 
moon was full — each evening, sitting on the ranch 
verandah, or walking homeward, we watched it 
rise over the line of bluffs beyond the river — and 
the deer were feeding at night ; moreover, in such 
hot weather they lie very close, move as little as 
possible, and are most difficult to find. Twice we 
lay out from dusk until dawn, in spite of the mos- 
quitoes, but saw nothing ; and the chances we did 
get we failed to profit by. 

One morning, instead of trudging out to hunt, 
I stayed at home, and sat in a rocking-chair on the 
verandah reading, rocking, or just sitting still lis- 
tening to the low rustling of the cottonwood 
branches overhead, and gazing across the river. 



The Columbian Blacktail Deer 63 

Through the still, clear, hot air, the faces of the 
bluffs shone dazzling white ; no shadow fell from 
the cloudless sky on the grassy slopes, or on the 
groves of timber ; only the far-away cooing of a 
mourning dove broke the silence. Suddenly my 
attention was arrested by a slight splashing in the 
water; glancing up from my book I saw three 
deer, which had come out of the thick fringe of 
bushes and young trees across the river, and were 
strolling along the sand-bars directly opposite me. 
Slipping stealthily into the house, I picked up my 
rifle and slipped back again. One of the deer was 
standing motionless, broadside to me; it was a 
long shot, two hundred and fifty yards, but I had 
a rest against a pillar of the verandah. I held 
true, and as the smoke cleared away the deer lay 
struggling on the sands. 

As the whitetail is the most common and widely 
distributed of American game, so the Columbian 
blacktail has the most sharply limited geographi- 
cal range; for it is confined to the northwest 
coast, where it is by far the most abundant deer. 
In antlers it is indistinguishable from the common 
blacktail of the Rockies and the great plains, and 
it has the regular blacktail gait, a succession of 
stiff -legged bounds on all four feet at once; but 
its tail is more like a whitetail's in shape, though 
black above. As regards methods of hunting, and 



64 The Wilderness Hunter 

the amount of sport yielded, it stands midway 
between its two brethren. It Hves in a land of 
magnificent timber, where the trees tower far into 
the sky, the giants of their kind; and there are 
few more attractive sports than still-hunting on 
the mountains, among these forests of marvellous 
beauty and grandeur. There are many lakes 
among the mountains where it dwells, and as it 
cares more for water than the ordinary blacktail, 
it is comparatively easy for hounds to drive it into 
some pond where it can be killed at leisure. It is 
thus often killed by hounding. 

The only one I ever killed was a fine young buck. 
We had camped near a little pond, and as evening 
fell I strolled off towards it and sat down. Just 
after sunset the buck came out of the woods. For 
some moments he hesitated and then walked for- 
ward and stood by the edge of the water, about 
sixty yards from me. We were out of meat, so 
I held right behind his shoulder, and though he 
went off, his bounds were short and weak, and he 
fell before he reached the wood. 



CHAPTER IV 

ON THE CATTLE RANGES; THE PRONGHORN 
ANTELOPE 

EARLY one June, just after the close of 
the regular spring round-up, a couple of 
wagons, with a score of riders between 
them, were sent to work some hitherto untouched 
country, between the Little Missouri and the Yel- 
lowstone. I was to go as the representative of 
our own and of one or two neighboring brands; 
but as the round-up had halted near my ranch 
I determined to spend a day there and then to 
join the wagons; — the appointed meeting-place 
being a cluster of red scoria buttes, some forty 
miles distant, where there was a spring of good 
water. 

Most of my day at the ranch was spent in slum- 
ber; for I had been several weeks on the round- 
up, where nobody ever gets quite enough sleep. 
This is the only drawback to the work ; otherwise 
it is pleasant and exciting, with just that slight 
touch of danger necessary to give it zest, and with- 
out the wearing fatigue of such labor as lumber- 
ing or mining. But there is never enough sleep, 
at least on the spring and midsummer round-ups. 

65 



66 The Wilderness Hunter 

The men are in the saddle from dawn until dusk 
at the time when the days are longest on these 
great northern plains; and in addition there is 
the regular night-guarding, and now and then a 
furious storm or a stampede, when for twenty- 
four hours at a stretch the riders only dismount 
to change horses or snatch a mouthful of food. 

I started in the bright sunrise, riding one horse 
and driving loose before me eight others, one car- 
rying my bedding. They travelled strung out in 
single file. I kept them trotting and loping, for 
loose horses are easiest to handle when driven at 
some speed, and, moreover, the way was long. 
My rifle was slung under my thigh ; the lariat was 
looped on the saddle-horn. 

At first our trail led through winding coulies 
and sharp, grassy defiles ; the air was wonderfully 
clear, the flowers were in bloom, the breath of the 
wind in my face was odorous and sweet. The pat- 
ter and beat of the unshod hoofs, rising in half- 
rhythmic measure, frightened the scudding deer; 
but the yellow-breasted meadow larks, perched on 
the budding tops of the bushes, sang their rich, 
full songs without heeding us as we went by. 

When the sun was well on high and the heat 
of the day had begun, we came to a dreary and 
barren plain, broken by rows of low, clay buttes. 
The ground in places was whitened by alkali; 
elsewhere it was dull gray. Here there grew 



On the Cattle Ranges 67 

nothing save sparse tufts of coarse grass and cac- 
tus and sprawling sage-brush. In the hot air all 
things seen afar danced and wavered. As I rode 
and gazed at the shimmering haze, the vast deso- 
lation of the landscape bore on me; it seemed as 
if the unseen and unknown powers of the wastes 
were moving by and marshalling their silent 
forces. No man save the wilderness dweller 
knows the strong melancholy fascination of these 
long rides through lonely lands. 

At noon, that the horses might graze and drink 
I halted where some box-alders grew by a pool in 
the bed of a half -dry creek, and shifted my saddle 
to a fresh beast. When we started again we came 
out on the rolling prairie, where the green sea of 
wind-rippled grass stretched limitless as far as 
the eye could reach. Little striped gophers scut- 
tled away, or stood perfectly straight at the 
mouths of their burrows, looking like picket -pins. 
Curlews clamored mournfully as they circled over- 
head. Prairie -fowl swept off, clucking and call- 
ing, or strutted about with their sharp tails erect. 
Antelope were very plentiful, running like race- 
horses across the level, or uttering their queer, 
barking grunt as they stood at gaze, the white 
hairs on their rumps all on end, their neck-bands 
of broken brown and white vivid in the sunlight. 
They were found singly or in small straggling par- 
ties ; the master bucks had not yet begun to drive 



68 The Wilderness Hunter 

out the younger and weaker ones as later in the 
season, when each would gather into a herd as 
many does as his jealous strength could guard 
from rivals. The nursing does whose kids had 
come early were often found with the bands ; the 
others kept apart. The kids were very conspicu- 
ous figures on the prairies, across which they 
scudded like jack-rabbits, showing nearly as much 
speed and alertness as their parents; only the 
very young sought safety by lying flat to escape 
notice. 

The horses cantered and trotted steadily over 
the mat of buffalo grass, steering for the group of 
low scoria mounds which was my goal. In mid- 
afternoon I reached it. The two wagons were 
drawn up near the spring; under them lay the 
night -wranglers, asleep; nearby, the teamster- 
cooks were busy about the evening meal. A 
little way off, the two day- wranglers were watch- 
ing the horse-herd; into which I speedily turned 
my own animals. The riders had already driven 
in the bunches of cattle, and were engaged in 
branding the calves, and turning loose the animals 
that were not needed, while the remainder were 
kept, forming the nucleus of the herd which was 
to accompany the wagon. 

As soon as the work was over the men rode to 
the wagons : sinewy fellows, with tattered, broad- 
brimmed hats and clanking spurs, some wearing 



On the Cattle Ranges 69 

leather shaps or leggings, others having their 
trousers tucked into their high-heeled top-boots, 
all with their flannel shirts and loose neckerchiefs 
dusty and sweaty. A few were indulging in 
rough, good-natured horse-play, to an accompani- 
ment of yelling mirth ; most were grave and taci- 
turn, greeting me with a silent nod or a "How! 
friend." A very talkative man, unless the ac- 
knowledged wit of the party, according to the 
somewhat florid frontier notion of wit, is always 
looked on with disfavor in a cow-camp. After 
supper, eaten in silent haste, we gathered round 
the embers of the small fires, and the conversa- 
tion glanced fitfully over the threadbare subjects 
common to all such camps: the antics of some 
particularly vicious bucking bronco, how the 
different brands of cattle were showing up, the 
smallness of the calf drop, the respective merits 
of rawhide lariats and grass ropes, and bits of 
rather startling and violent news concerning the 
fates of certain neighbors. Then one by one we 
began to turn in under our blankets. 

Our wagon was to furnish the night -guards for 
the cattle; and each of us had his gentlest horse 
tied ready to hand. The night-guards went on 
duty two at a time for two-hour watches. By 
good luck, my watch came last. My comrade was 
a happy-go-lucky young Texan, who for some 
inscrutable reason was known as " Latigo Strap" ; 



70 The Wilderness Hunter 

he had just come from the south with a big drove 
of trail cattle. 

A few minutes before two, one of the guards who 
had gone on duty at midnight rode into camp 
and awakened us by shaking our shoulders. Fum- 
bling in the dark, I speedily saddled my horse; 
Latigo had left his saddled, and he started ahead 
of me. One of the annoyances of night-guarding, 
at least in thick weather, is the occasional diffi- 
culty of finding the herd after leaving camp, or in 
returning to camp after the watch is over; there 
are few things more exasperating than to be help- 
lessly wandering about in the dark under such 
circumstances. However, on this occasion there 
was no such trouble; for it was a brilliant star- 
light night and the herd had been bedded down 
by a sugar-loaf butte which made a good land- 
mark. As we reached the spot we could make out 
the loom of the cattle lying close together on the 
level plain; and then the dim figure of a horse- 
man rose vaguely from the darkness and moved by 
in silence ; it was the other of the two midnight 
guards on his way back to his broken slumber. 

At once we began to ride slowly round the 
cattle in opposite directions. We were silent, for 
the night was clear, and the herd quiet; in wild 
weather, when the cattle are restless, the cow- 
boys never cease calling and singing as they circle 
them, for the sounds seem to quiet the beasts. 



On the Cattle Ranges 71 

For over an hour we steadily paced the endless 
round, saying nothing, with our greatcoats but- 
toned, for the air is chill towards morning on 
the noi"thern plains, even in summer. Then faint 
streaks of gray appeared in the east. Latigo 
Strap began to call merrily to the cattle. A coy- 
ote came sneaking over the butte nearby and 
halted to yell and wail ; afterwards he crossed the 
coulie and from the hillside opposite again shrieked 
in dismal crescendo. The dawn brightened rap- 
idly ; the little skylarks of the plains began to sing, 
soaring far overhead, while it was still much too 
dark to see them. Their song is not powerful, 
but it is so clear and fresh and long-continued 
that it always appeals to one very strongly ; es- 
pecially because it is most often heard in the 
rose-tinted air of the glorious mornings, while 
the listener sits in the saddle, looking across the 
endless sweep of the prairies. 

As it grew lighter the cattle became restless, 
rising and stretching themselves, while we con- 
tinued to ride round them. 

" Then the bronc' began to pitch 
And I began to ride; 
He bucked me off a cut bank, 
Hell! I nearly died!" 

sang Latigo from the other side of the herd, A 
yell from the wagons told that the cook was sum- 
moning the sleeping cow-punchers to breakfast; 



72 The Wilderness Hunter 

we were soon able to distinguish their figures as 
they rolled out of their bedding, wrapped and 
corded it into bundles, and huddled sullenly round 
the little fires. The horse-wranglers were driving 
in the saddle bands. All the cattle got on their 
feet and started feeding. In a few minutes the 
hasty breakfast at the wagons had evidently been 
despatched, for we could see the men forming rope 
corrals into which the ponies were driven; then 
each man saddled, bridled, and mounted his 
horse, two or three of the half -broken beasts 
bucking, rearing, and plunging frantically in the 
vain effort to unseat their riders. 

The two men who were first in the saddle re- 
lieved Latigo and myself, and we immediately 
galloped to camp, shifted our saddles to fresh ani- 
mals, gulped down a cup or two of hot coffee, and 
some pork, beans, and bread, and rode to the spot 
where the others were gathered, lolling loosely in 
their saddles and waiting for the round-up boss 
to assign them their tasks. We were the last, and 
as soon as we arrived the boss divided all into two 
parties for the morning work, or "circle riding," 
whereby the cattle were to be gathered for the 
round-up proper. Then, as the others started, he 
turned to me and remarked: "We've got enough 
hands to drive this open country without you; 
but we're out of meat, and I don't want to kill a 
beef for such a small outfit ; can't you shoot some 



The Pronghorn Antelope 73 

antelope this morning? We'll pitch camp by the 
big, blasted cottonwood at the foot of the ash 
coulies over yonder, below the breaks of Dry 
Creek." 

Of course I gladly assented, and was speedily 
riding alone across the grassy slopes. There was 
no lack of the game I was after, for from every 
rise of ground I could see antelope scattered 
across the prairie — singly, in couples, or in bands. 
But their very numbers, joined to the lack of 
cover on such an open, flattish country, proved a 
bar to success; while I was stalking one band 
another was sure to see me and begin running, 
whereat the first would likewise start; I missed 
one or two very long shots, and noon found me 
still without game. 

However, I was then lucky enough to see a 
band of a dozen feeding to windward of a small 
butte, and by galloping in a long circle I got 
within a quarter of a mile of them before having 
to dismount. The stalk itself was almost too easy, 
for I simply walked to the butte, climbed carefully 
up a slope where the soil was firm and peered over 
the top, to see the herd-^a little one — a hundred 
yards off. They saw me at once and ran, but I 
held well ahead of a fine young prongbuck, and 
rolled him over like a rabbit, with both shoulders 
broken. In a few minutes I was riding onwards 
once more, with the buck lashed behind my saddle. 



74 The Wilderness Hunter 

The next one I got, a couple of hours later, 
offered a much more puzzling stalk. He was a 
big fellow, in company with four does or small 
bucks. All five were lying in the middle of a 
slight basin, at the head of a gentle valley. At 
first sight it seemed impossible to get near them, 
for there was not so much cover as a sage-brush, 
and the smooth, shallow basin in which they lay 
was over a thousand yards across, while they were 
looking directly down the valley. However, it is 
curious how hard it is to tell, even from nearby, 
whether a stalk can or cannot be made ; the diffi- 
culty being to estimate the exact amount of shel- 
ter yielded by little inequalities of ground. In 
this instance a small, shallow watercourse, entirely 
dry, ran along the valley, and after much study 
I decided to try to crawl up it, although the big, 
bulging, telescopic eyes of the prongbuck — which 
have much keener sight than deer or any other 
game — would in such case be pointed directly my 
way. 

Having made up my mind, I backed cautiously 
down from the coign of vantage whence I had first 
seen the game, and ran about a mile to the mouth 
of a washout which formed the continuation of 
the watercourse in question. Protected by the 
high clay banks of this washout, I was able to 
walk upright until within half a mile of the prong- 
bucks ; then my progress became very tedious and 



The Pronghorn Antelope 75 

toilsome, as I had to work my way up the water- 
course fiat on my stomach, dragging the rifle be- 
side me. At last I reached a spot beyond which 
not even a snake could crawl unnoticed. In front 
was a low bank, a couple of feet high, crested with 
tufts of coarse grass. Raising my head very cau- 
tiously, I peered through these aiid saw the prong- 
horn about a hundred and fifty yards distant. 
At the same time I found that I had crawled to 
the edge of a village of prairie-dogs, which had 
already made me aware of their presence by their 
shrill yelping. They saw me at once, and all 
those away from their homes scuttled towards 
them and dived down the burrows, or sat on the 
mounds at the entrances, scolding convulsively 
and jerking their fat little bodies and short tails. 
This commotion at once attracted the attention of 
the antelope. They rose forthwith, and imme- 
diately caught a glimpse of the black muzzle of 
the rifle which I was gently pushing through the 
grass tufts. The fatal curiosity which so often in 
this species offsets wariness and sharp sight, 
proved my friend; evidently the antelope could 
not quite make me out and wished to know what 
I was. They moved nervously to and fro, strik- 
ing the earth with their fore hoofs and now and 
then uttering a sudden bleat. At last the big 
buck stood still, broadside to me, and I fired. He 
went off with the others, but lagged behind as 



7^ The Wilderness Hunter 

they passed over the hill crest, and when I reached 
it I saw him standing, not very far off, with his 
head down. Then he walked backwards a few 
steps, fell over on his side, and died. 

As he was a big buck, I slung him across the 
saddle and started for camp afoot, leading the 
horse. However^ ray hunt was not over, for while 
still a mile from the wagons, going down a coulie 
of Dry Creek, a yearling prongbuck walked over 
the divide to my right and stood still until I 
sent a bullet into its chest ; so that I made my 
appearance in camp with three antelope. 

I spoke above of the sweet singing of the west- 
ern meadow lark and plains skylark; neither of 
them kin to the true skylark, by the way, one 
being a cousin of the grakles and hangbirds, and 
the other a kind of pipit. To me both of these 
birds are among the most attractive singers to 
which I have ever listened; but with all bird 
music much must be allowed for the surroundings 
and much for the mood, and the keenness of sense, 
of the listener. The lilt of the little plains sky- 
lark is neither very powerful nor very melodious ; 
but it is sweet, pure, long-sustained, with a ring 
of courage befitting a song uttered in highest 
air. 

The meadow lark is a singer of a higher order, 
deserving to rank with the best. Its song has 
length, variety, power, and rich melody; and 



The Pronghorn Antelope "j^ 

there is in it sometimes a cadence of wild sadness, 
inexpressibly touching. Yet I cannot say that 
either song would appeal to others as it appeals 
to me; for to me it comes forever laden with a 
hundred memories and associations; with the 
sight of dim hills reddening in the dawn, with the 
breath of cool morning winds blowing across lonely 
plains, with the scent of flowers on the sunlit 
prairie, with the motion of fiery horses, with all 
the strong thrill of eager and buoyant life. I 
doubt if any man can judge dispassionately the 
bird songs of his own country; he cannot dis- 
associate them from the sights and sounds of the 
land that is so dear to him. 

This is not a feeling to regret, but it must be 
taken into account in accepting any estimate of 
bird music — even in considering the reputation of 
the European skylark and nightingale. To both 
of these birds I have often listened in their own 
homes ; always with pleasure and admiration, but 
always with a growing belief that, relatively to 
some other birds, they were ranked too high. 
They are pre-eminently birds with literary asso- 
ciations ; most people take their opinions of them 
at second hand, from the poets. 

No one can help liking the lark; it is such a 
brave, honest, cheery bird, and, moreover, its 
song is uttered in the air, and is very long sus- 
tained. But it is by no means a musician of the 



78 The Wilderness Hunter 

first rank. The nightingale is a performer of a 
very different and far higher order ; yet, though it 
is indeed a notable and admirable singer, it is an 
exaggeration to call it unequalled. In melody, 
and, above all, in that finer, higher melody where 
the chords vibrate with the touch of eternal sor- 
row, it cannot rank with such singers as the wood 
thrush and hermit thrush. The serene, ethereal, 
beauty of the hermit's song, rising and falling 
through the still evening, under the archways of 
hoary mountain forests that have endured from 
time everlasting; the golden, leisurely chiming of 
the wood thrush, sounding on June afternoons, 
stanza by stanza, through sun-flecked groves of 
tall hickories, oaks, and chestnuts — with these 
there is nothing in the nightingale's song to com- 
pare. But in volume and continuity, in tuneful, 
voluble, rapid outpouring and ardor, above all in 
skilful and intricate variation of theme, its song 
far surpasses that of either of the thrushes. In 
all these respects, it is more just to compare it with 
the mocking-bird's, which, as a rule, likewise falls 
short precisely on those points where the songs of 
the two thrushes excel. 

The mocking-bird is a singer that has suffered 
much in reputation from its powers of mimicry. 
On ordinary occasions, and especially in the day- 
time, it insists on playing the harlequin. But 
when free in its own favorite haunts at night in 



The Pronghorn Antelope 79 

the love season, it has a song, or rather songs, 
which are not only purely original, but are also 
more beautiful than any other bird music what- 
soever. Once I listened to a mocking-bird sing- 
ing the livelong spring night, under the full moon, 
in a magnolia tree ; and I do not think I shall ever 
forget its song. 

It was on the plantation of Major Campbell 
Brown, near Nashville, in the beautiful, fertile 
mid-Tennessee country. The mocking-birds were 
prime favorites on the place ; and were given full 
scope for the development, not only of their bold 
friendliness towards mankind, but also of that 
marked individuality and originality of character 
in which they so far surpass every other bird as to 
become the most interesting of all feathered folk. 
One of the mockers, which lived in the hedge bor- 
dering the garden, was constantly engaged in an 
amusing feud with an honest old setter dog, the 
point of attack being the tip of the dog's tail. 
For some reason the bird seemed to regard any 
hoisting of the setter's tail as a challenge and in- 
sult. It would flutter near the dog as he walked ; 
the old setter would become interested in some- 
thing and raise his tail. The bird would promptly 
fly at it and peck the tip ; whereupon down went 
the tail, until in a couple of minutes the old fellow 
would forget himself, and the scene would be 
repeated. The dog usually bore the assaults with 



8o The Wilderness Hunter 

comic resignation ; and the mocker easily avoided 
any momentary outburst of clumsy resentment. 

On the evening in question the moon was full. 
My host kindly assigned me a room of which the 
windows opened on a great magnolia tree, where, 
I was told, a mocking-bird sang every night and 
all night long. I went to my room about ten. 
The moonlight was shining in through the open 
window, and the mocking-bird was already in the 
magnolia. The great tree was bathed in a flood 
of shining silver ; I could see each twig and mark 
every action of the singer, who was pouring forth 
such a rapture of ringing melody as I have never 
listened to before or since. Sometimes he would 
perch motionless for many minutes, his body quiv- 
ering and thrilling with the outpour of music. 
Then he would drop softly from twig to twig, 
until the lowest limb was reached, when he would 
rise, fluttering and leaping through the branches, 
his song never ceasing for an instant, until he 
reached the summit of the tree and launched into 
the warm, scent -laden air, floating in spirals, with 
outspread wings, until, as if spent, he sank gently 
back into the tree and down through the branches, 
while his song rose into an ecstasy of ardor and 
passion. His voice rang like a clarionet, in rich, 
full tones, and his execution covered the widest 
possible compass; theme followed theme, a tor- 
rent of music, a swelling tide of harmony, in which 



The Pronghorn Antelope 8i 

scarcely any two bars were alike. I stayed till 
midnight listening to him ; he was singing when I 
went to sleep; he was still singing when I woke 
a couple of hours later ; he sang through the live- 
long night. 

There are many singers beside the meadow lark 
and little skylark in the plains country — that 
brown and desolate land, once the home of the 
thronging buffalo, still haunted by the bands of 
the prongbuck, and roamed over in ever-increas- 
ing numbers by the branded herds of the ranch- 
man. In the brush of the river bottoms there 
are the thrasher and song sparrow ; on the grassy 
uplands the lark finch, vesper sparrow, and lark 
bunting ; and in the rough canyons the rock wren, 
with its ringing melody. 

Yet in certain moods a man cares less for even 
the loveliest bird songs than for the wilder, 
harsher, stronger sounds of the wilderness; the 
guttural booming and clucking of the prairie-fowl 
and the great sage-fowl in spring ; the honking of 
gangs of wild geese, as they fly in rapid wedges; 
the bark of an eagle, wheeling in the shadow of 
storm-scarred cliffs; or the far-off clanging of 
many sandhill cranes, soaring high overhead in 
circles which cross and recross at an incredible 
altitude. Wilder yet, and stranger, are the cries 
of the great four-footed beasts; the rhythmic 
pealing of a bull-elk's challenge; and that most 

6 



82 The Wilderness Hunter 

sinister and mournful sound, ever fraught with 
foreboding of murder and rapine, the long-drawn 
baying of the gray wolf. 

Indeed, save to the trained ear, most mere 
bird songs are not very noticeable. The ordinary 
wilderness dweller, whether hunter or cowboy, 
scarcely heeds them ; and, in fact, knows but little 
of the smaller birds. If a bird has some conspicu- 
ous peculiarity of look or habit he will notice its 
existence ; but not otherwise. He knows a good 
deal about magpies, whisky-jacks, or water- 
ousels; but nothing whatever concerning the 
thrushes, finches, and warblers. 

It is the same with mammals. The prairie-dogs 
he cannot help noticing. With the big pack-rats 
also he is well acquainted; for they are hand- 
some, with soft gray fur, large eyes, and bushy 
tails; and, moreover, no one can avoid remark- 
ing their extraordinary habit of carrying to their 
burrows everything bright, useless, and portable, 
from an empty cartridge case to a skinning-knife. 
But he knows nothing of mice, shrews, pocket- 
gophers, or weasels; and but little even of some 
larger mammals with very marked characteris- 
tics. Thus I have met but one or two plainsmen 
who knew anything of the curious plains ferret, 
that rather rare weasel-like animal, which plays 
the same part on the plains that the mink does 
by the edges of all our streams and brooks, and 



The Pronghorn Antelope S^ 

the tree-loving sable in the cold northern forests. 
The ferret makes its home in burrows, and by 
preference goes abroad at dawn and dusk, but 
sometimes even at midday. It is as blood- 
thirsty as the mink itself, and its life is one long 
ramble for prey — gophers, prairie-dogs, sage-rab- 
bits, jack-rabbits, snakes, and every kind of 
ground bird furnishing its food. I have known 
one to fairly depopulate a prairie-dog town, it 
being the arch foe of these little rodents, because 
of its insatiable blood lust and its capacity to fol- 
low them into their burrows. Once I found the 
bloody body and broken eggs of a poor prairie- 
hen which a ferret had evidently surprised on her 
nest. Another time one of my men was eye-wit- 
ness to a more remarkable instance of the little 
animal's bloodthirsty ferocity. He was riding 
the range, and, being attracted by a slight com- 
motion in a clump of grass, he turned his horse 
thither to look, and to his astonishment found an 
antelope fawn at the last gasp, but still feebly 
struggling in the grasp of a ferret, which had 
throttled it and was sucking its blood with hideous 
greediness. He avenged the murdered innocent 
by a dexterous blow with the knotted end of his 
lariat. 

That mighty bird of rapine, the war-eagle, 
which on the great plains and among the Rockies 
supplants the bald-headed eagle of better- watered 



84 The Wilderness Hunter 

regions, is another dangerous foe of the young 
antelope. It is even said that under exceptional 
circumstances eagles will assail a full-grown prong- 
horn; and a neighboring ranchman informs me 
that he was once an eye-witness to such an attack. 
It was a bleak day in the late winter, and he was 
riding home across a wide, dreary plateau, when 
he saw two eagles worrying and pouncing on a 
prongbuck — seemingly a yearling. It made a 
gallant fight. The eagles hovered over it with 
spread wings, now and then swooping down, their 
talons out-thrust, to strike at the head, or to try 
to settle on the loins. The antelope reared and 
struck with hoofs and horns like a goat; but its 
strength was failing rapidly, and doubtless it 
would have succumbed in the end had not the 
approach of the ranchman driven off the marau- 
ders. 

I have likewise heard stories of eagles attack- 
ing badgers, foxes, bob-cats, and coyotes; but I 
am inclined to think all such cases exceptional. 
I have never myself seen an eagle assail anything 
bigger than a fawn, lamb, kid, or jack-rabbit. It 
also swoops at geese, sage-fowl, and prairie-fowl. 
On one occasion, while riding over the range, I 
witnessed an attack on a jack-rabbit. The eagle 
was soaring overhead, and espied the jack while 
the latter was crouched motionless. Instantly the 
great bird rushed down through the humming air, 



The Pronghorn Antelope 85 

with closed wings ; checked itself when some forty 
yards above the jack, hovered for a moment, and 
again fell like a bolt. Away went long-ears, run- 
ning as only a frightened jack can ; and after him 
the eagle, not with the arrowy rush of its descent 
from high air, but with eager, hurried flapping. 
In a short time it had nearly overtaken the fugi- 
tive, when the latter dodged sharply to one side, 
and the eagle overshot it precisely as a grey- 
hound would have done, stopping itself by a pow- 
erful, setting motion of the great pinions. Twice 
this manoeuvre was repeated; then the eagle 
made a quick rush, caught, and overthrew the 
quarry before it could turn, and in another mo- 
ment was sitting triumphant on the quivering 
body, the crooked talons driven deep into the 
soft, furry sides. 

Once, while hunting mountain sheep in the Bad 
Lands, I killed an eagle on the wing with the rifle. 
I was walking beneath a cliff of gray clay, when 
the eagle sailed into view over the crest. As soon 
as he saw me he threw his wings aback, and for a 
moment before wheeling poised motionless, offer- 
ing a nearly stationary target ; so that my bullet 
grazed his shoulder, and down he came through 
the air, tumbling over and over. As he struck the 
ground he threw himself on his back, and fought 
against his death with the undaunted courage 
proper to his brave and cruel nature. 



86 The Wilderness Hunter 

Indians greatly prize the feathers of this eagle. 
With them they make their striking and beautiful 
war bonnets, and bedeck the manes and tails of 
their spirited war ponies. Every year the Gros- 
ventres and Mandans from the Big Missouri come 
to the neighborhood of my ranch to hunt. Though 
not good marksmen, they kill many whitetail deer, 
driving the bottoms for them in bands, on horse- 
back; and they catch many eagles. Sometimes 
they take these alive by exposing a bait near 
which a hole is dug, where one of them lies hidden 
for days, with Indian patience, until an eagle 
lights on the bait and is noosed. 

Even eagles are far less dangerous enemies to 
antelope than are wolves and coyotes. These 
beasts are always prowling round the bands to 
snap up the sick or unwary; and in spring they 
revel in carnage of the kids and fawns. They are 
not swift enough to overtake the grown animals 
by sheer speed ; but they are superior in endurance, 
and, especially in winter, often run them down in 
fair chase. A prongbuck is a plucky little beast, 
and when cornered it often makes a gallant, 
though not a very effectual, fight. 



CHAPTER V 

HUNTING THE PRONGBUCK ; FROST, FIRE, 
AND THIRST 

AS with all other American game, man is a 
worse foe to the pronghorns than all 
their brute enemies combined. They 
hold their own much better than the bigger game ; 
on the whole even better than the blacktail ; but 
their numbers have been wofully thinned, and in 
many places they have been completely exter- 
minated. The most exciting method of chasing 
them is on horseback with greyhounds ; but they 
are usually killed with the rifle. Owing to the 
open nature of the ground they frequent, the shots 
must generally be taken at long range; hence 
this kind of hunting is pre-eminently that need- 
ing judgment of distance and skill in the use of 
the long-range rifle at stationary objects. On the 
other hand the antelope are easily seen, making 
no effort to escape observation, as deer do, and 
are so curious that in very wild districts to this 
day they can sometimes be tolled within rifle- 
shot by the judicious waving of a red flag. In 
consequence, a good many very long, but tempt- 
ing, shots can be obtained. More cartridges are 

87 



88 The Wilderness Hunter 

used, relatively to the amount of game killed, on 
antelope than in any other hunting. 

Often I have killed prongbucks while riding 
between the outlying line camps, which are usu- 
ally stationed a dozen miles or so back from the 
river, where the Bad Lands melt into the prairie. 
In continually trying long shots, of course one 
occasionally makes a remarkable hit. Once, I re- 
member, while riding down a broad, shallow cou- 
lie with two of my cow-hands, — Sea well and Dow, 
both keen hunters and among the staunchest 
friends I have ever had, — rousing a band of ante- 
lope which stood irresolute at about a hundred 
yards until I killed one. Then they dashed off, 
and I missed one shot, but with my next, to my 
own utter astonishment, killed the last of the 
band, a big buck, just as he topped a rise four 
hundred yards away. To offset such shots I have 
occasionally made an unaccountable miss. Once 
I was hunting with the same two men, on a rainy 
day, when we came on a bunch of antelope some 
seventy yards off, lying down on the side of a 
coulie, to escape the storm. They huddled to- 
gether a moment to gaze, and, with stiffened 
fingers I took a shot, my yellow oilskin slicker 
flapping around me in the wind and rain. Down 
went one buck, and away went the others. One 
of my men walked up to the fallen beast, bent 
over it, and then asked: ''Where did you aim?" 



Hunting the Prongbuck 89 

Not reassured by the question, I answered doubt- 
fully: "Behind the shoulder." Whereat he re- 
marked drily: "Well, you hit it in the eye!" 
I never did know whether I killed the antelope I 
aimed at or another. Yet that same day I killed 
three more bucks at decidedly long shots ; at the 
time we lacked meat at the ranch, and were out 
to make a good killing. 

Besides their brute and human foes, the prong- 
horn must also fear the elements, and especially 
the snows of winter. On the northern plains the 
cold weather is of polar severity, and turns the 
green, grassy prairies of midsummer into iron- 
bound wastes. The blizzards whirl and sweep 
across them with a shrieking fury which few liv- 
ing things may face. The snow is like fine ice- 
dust, and the white waves glide across the grass 
with a stealthy, crawling motion which has in it 
something sinister and cruel. Accordingly, as the 
bright fall weather passes, and the dreary winter 
draws nigh, when the days shorten, and the 
nights seem interminable, and gray storms lower 
above the gray horizon, the antelope gather in 
bands and seek sheltered places, where they may 
abide through the winter-time of famine and cold 
and deep snow. Some of these bands travel for 
many hundred miles, going and returning over 
the same routes, swimming rivers, crossing prai- 
ries, and threading their way through steep defiles. 



90 The Wilderness Hunter 

Such bands make their winter home in the Black 
Hills, or similar mountainous regions, where the 
shelter and feed are good, and where, in conse- 
quence, antelope have wintered in countless 
thousands for untold generations. Other bands 
do not travel for any very great distance, but 
seek some sheltered grassy table-land in the 
Bad Lands, or some well-shielded valley, where 
their instinct and experience teach them that the 
snow does not lie deep in winter. Once having 
chosen such a place they stand much persecution 
before leaving it. 

One December, an old hunter whom I knew 
told me that such a band was wintering a few 
miles from a camp where two line-riders of the 
W Bar brand were stationed ; and I made up my 
mind to ride thither and kill a couple. The line 
camp was twenty miles from my ranch; the 
shack in which the old hunter lived was midway 
between, and I had to stop there to find out the 
exact lay of the land. 

At dawn, before our early breakfast, I saddled 
a tough, shaggy sorrel horse; hastening indoors 
as soon as the job was over to warm my numbed 
fingers. After breakfast I started, muffled in my 
wolfskin coat, with beaver-fur cap, gloves, and 
shaps, and great felt overshoes. The windless 
air was bitter cold, the thermometer showing well 
below zero. Snow lay on the ground, leaving 



Hunting the Prongbuck 91 

bare patches here and there, but drifted deep in 
the hollows. Under the steel-blue heavens the 
atmosphere had a peculiar glint, as if filled with 
myriads of tiny crystals. As I crossed the frozen 
river, immediately in front of the ranch-house, 
the strangely carved tops of the bluffs were red- 
dening palely in the winter sunrise. Prairie-fowl 
were perched in the bare cottonwoods along the 
river brink, showing large in the leafless branches ; 
they called and clucked to one another. 

Where the ground was level and the snow not 
too deep I loped, and before noon I reached the 
sheltered coulie where, with long poles and bark, 
the hunter had built his tepee — wigwam, as eastern 
woodsmen would have called it. It stood in a 
loose grove of elms and box-alders; from the 
branches of the nearest trees hung saddles of 
frozen venison. The smoke rising from the fun- 
nel-shaped top of the tepee showed that there was 
more fire than usual within; it is easy to keep a 
good tepee warm, though it is so smoky that no 
one therein can stand upright. As I drew rein the 
skin door was pushed aside, and the hard old face 
and dried, battered body of the hunter appeared. 
He greeted me with a surly nod, and a brief re- 
quest to ''light and hev somethin' to eat" — the 
invariable proffer of hospitality on the plains. 
He wore a greasy buckskin shirt or tunic, and 
an odd cap of badger-skin, from beneath which 



92 The Wilderness Hunter 

strayed his tangled hair; age, rheumatism, and 
the many accidents and incredible fatigue, hard- 
ship, and exposure of his past life had crippled 
him, yet he still possessed great power of endur- 
ance, and in his seamed, weather-scarred face his 
eyes burned fierce and piercing as a hawk's. Ever 
since early manhood he had wandered over the 
plains, hunting and trapping ; he had waged sav- 
age private war against half the Indian tribes of 
the north; and he had wedded wives in each of 
the tribes of the other half. A few years before 
this time the great buffalo herds had vanished, 
and the once swarming beaver had shared the 
same fate; the innumerable horses and horned 
stock of the cattlemen, and the daring rough 
riders of the ranches, had supplanted alike the 
game and the red and white wanderers who had 
followed it with such fierce rivalry. When the 
change took place the old fellow, vv^ith failing 
bodily powers, found his life-work over. He had 
little taste for the career of the desperado, horse- 
thief, highwayman, and man-killer, which not a 
few of the old buffalo-hunters adopted when their 
legitimate occupation was gone; he scorned still 
more the life of vicious and idle semi-criminality 
led by others of his former companions who were 
of weaker mould. Yet he could not do regular 
work. His existence had been one of excite- 
ment, adventure, and restless roaming, when it 



Hunting the Prongbuck 93 

was not passed in lazy ease ; his times of toil and 
peril varied by fits of brutal revelry. He had no 
kin, no ties of any kind. He would accept no 
help, for his wants were very few, and he was 
utterly self-reliant. He got meat, clothing, and 
bedding from the antelope and deer he killed ; the 
spare hides and venison he bartered for what little 
else he needed. So he built him his tepee in one 
of the most secluded parts of the Bad Lands, 
where he led the life of a solitary hunter, awaiting 
in grim loneliness the death which he knew to be 
near at hand. 

I unsaddled and picketed my horse, and fol- 
lowed the old hunter into his smoky tepee; sat 
down on the pile of worn buffalo-robes which 
formed his bedding, and waited in silence while 
he fried some deer meat and boiled some coffee — 
he was out of flour. As I ate, he gradually un- 
bent and talked quite freely, and before I left he 
told me exactly where to find the band, which he 
assured me was located for the winter, and would 
not leave unless much harried. 

After a couple of hours' rest I again started, 
and pushed out to the end of the Bad Lands. 
Here, as there had been no wind, I knew I should 
find in the snow the tracks of one of the riders 
from the line camp, whose beat lay along the edge 
of the prairie for some eight miles, until it met 
the beat of a rider from the line camp next above. 



94 The Wilderness Hunter 

As nightfall came on it grew even colder; long 
icicles hung from the lips of my horse ; and I shiv- 
ered slightly in my fur coat. I had reckoned the 
distance ill, and it was dusk when I struck the 
trail ; but my horse at once turned along it of his 
own accord and began to lope. Half an hour 
later I saw through the dark what looked like a 
spark on the side of a hill. Toward this my horse 
turned; and in another moment a whinnying 
from in front showed I was near the camp. The 
light was shining through a small window, the 
camp itself being a dugout with a log roof and 
front — a kind of frontier building, always warm 
in winter. After turning my horse into the rough 
log stable with the horses of the two cowboys, I 
joined the latter at supper inside the dugout; 
being received, of course, with hearty cordiality. 
After the intense cold outside the warmth within 
was almost oppressive, for the fire was roaring in 
the big stone fireplace. The bunks were broad; 
my two friends turned into one, and I was given 
the other, with plenty of bedding; so that my 
sleep was sound. 

We had breakfasted and saddled our horses and 
were off by dawn next morning. My companions, 
mufiled in furs, started in opposite directions to 
ride their lonely beats, while I steered for my 
hunting-ground. It was a lowering and gloomy 
day; at sunrise pale, lurid sundogs hung in the 



Hunting the Prongbuck 95 

glimmering mist ; gusts of wind moaned through 
the ravines. 

At last I reached a row of bleak hills, and from 
a ridge looked cautiously down on the chain of 
plateaus, where I had been told I should see 
the antelope. Sure enough, there they were, to 
the number of several hundred, scattered over the 
level, snow-streaked surface of the nearest and 
largest plateau, greedily cropping the thick, short 
grass. Leaving my horse tied in a hollow, I speed- 
ily stalked up a coulie to within a hundred yards 
of the nearest band and killed a good buck. In- 
stantly all the antelope in sight ran together into 
a thick mass and raced away from me, until they 
went over the opposite edge of the plateau; but 
almost as soon as they did so they were stopped 
by deep drifts of powdered snow, and came back 
to the summit of the table-land. They then 
circled round the edge at a gallop, and finally 
broke madly by me, jostling one another in their 
frantic haste and crossed by a small ridge into the 
next plateau beyond; as they went by I shot a 
yearling. 

I now had all the venison I wished, and would 
shoot no more, but I was curious to see how the 
antelope would act, and so walked after them. 
They ran about half a mile, and then the whole 
herd, of several hundred individuals, wheeled into 
line fronting me, like so many cavalry, and stood 



9^ The Wilderness Hunter 

motionless, the white and brown bands on their 
necks looking like the facings on a uniform. As 
I walked near they again broke and rushed to the 
end of the valley. Evidently they feared to leave 
the fiats for the broken country beyond, where 
the rugged hills were riven by gorges, in some of 
which snow lay deep even thus early in the season. 
Accordingly, after galloping a couple of times 
round the valley, they once more broke by me, at 
short range, and tore back along the plateaus to 
that on which I had first found them. Their evi- 
dent and extreme reluctance to venture into the 
broken country round about made me readily un- 
derstand the tales I had heard of game butchers 
killing over a hundred individuals at a time out 
of a herd so situated. 

I walked back to my game, dressed it, and 
lashed the saddles and hams behind me on my 
horse ; I had chosen old Sorrel Joe for the trip be- 
cause he was strong, tough, and quiet. Then I 
started for the ranch, keeping to the prairie as 
long as I could, because there the going was 
easier; sometimes I rode, sometimes I ran on 
foot, leading Sorrel Joe. 

Late in the afternoon, as I rode over a roll in 
the prairie I saw ahead of me a sight very unusual 
at that season; a small emigrant train going 
westward. There were three white-topped prai- 
rie schooners, containing the household goods, 



Hunting the Prongbuck 97 

the tow-headed children, and the hard-faced, 
bony women; the tired horses were straining 
wearily in the traces; the bearded, moody men 
walked alongside. They had been belated by 
sickness, and the others of their company had 
gone ahead to take up claims along the Yellow- 
stone; now they themselves were pushing for- 
ward in order to reach the holdings of their 
friends before the first deep snows stopped all 
travel. They had no time to halt ; for there were 
still two or three miles to go that evening before 
they could find a sheltered resting-place, with 
fuel, grass, and water. A little while after pass- 
ing them I turned in the saddle and looked back. 
The lonely little train stood out sharply on the 
sky-line, the wagons looming black against the 
cold, red west as they toiled steadily onward 
across the snowy plain. 

Night soon fell ; but I cared little, for I was on 
ground I knew. The old horse threaded his way 
at a lope along the familiar game trails and cattle 
paths; in a couple of hours I caught the gleam 
from the firelit windows of the ranch-house. No 
man who, for his good-fortune, has at times in his 
life endured toil and hardship, ever fails to ap- 
preciate the strong elemental pleasures of rest, 
after labor, food after hunger, warmth and shelter 
after bitter cold. 

So much for the winter hunting. But in the 



98 The Wilderness Hunter 

fall, when the grass is dry as tinder, the antelope 
hunter, like other plainsmen, must sometimes face 
fire instead of frost. Fire is one of the most 
dreaded enemies of the ranchmen on the cattle 
ranges ; and fighting a big prairie fire is a work of 
extraordinary labor, and sometimes of danger. 
The line of flame, especially when seen at night, 
undulating like a serpent, is very beautiful; 
though it lacks the terror and grandeur of the 
great forest fires. 

One October, Ferguson and I, with one of the 
cow-hands, and a friend from the East, took the 
wagon for an antelope hunt in the broken country 
between the Little Missouri and the Beaver. The 
cowboy drove the wagon to a small spring, near 
some buttes which are well distinguished by a 
number of fossil tree-stumps ; while the rest of us, 
who were mounted on good horses, made a circle 
after antelope. We found none, and rode on to 
camp, reaching it about the middle of the after- 
noon. We had noticed several columns of smoke 
in the southeast, showing that prairie fires were 
under way; but we thought that they were too 
far off to endanger our camp, and accordingly un- 
saddled our horses and sat down to a dinner of 
bread, beans, and coffee. Before we were through 
the smoke began to pour over a ridge a mile dis- 
tant in such quantities that we ran thither with 
our slickers, hoping to find some stretch of broken 



Frost, Fire, and Thirst . 99 

ground where the grass was sparse, and where 
we could fight the fire with effect. Our hopes 
were vain. Before we reached the ridge the fire 
came over its crest, and ran down in a long tongue 
between two scoria buttes. Here the grass was 
quite short and thin, and we did our best to beat 
out the flames ; but they gradually gained on us, 
and as they reached the thicker grass lower down 
the slope, they began to roar and dart forward in 
a way that bade us pay heed to our own safety. 
Finally they reached a winding line of brushwood 
in the bottom of the coulie ; and as this burst into 
a leaping blaze we saw it was high time to look to 
the safety of our camp, and ran back to it at top 
speed. Ferguson, who had been foremost in 
fighting the fire, was already scorched and black- 
ened. 

We were camped on the wagon trail which leads 
along the divide almost due south to Sentinel 
Butte. The line of fire was fanned by a southeast- 
erly breeze, and was therefore advancing diago- 
nally to the divide. If we could drive the wagon 
southward on the trail in time to get it past the 
fire before the latter reached the divide, we would 
be to windward of the flames, and therefore in 
safety. Accordingly, while the others were hastily 
harnessing the team, and tossing the bedding and 
provisions into the wagon, I threw the saddle on 
my horse, and galloped down the trail, to see if 



loo The Wilderness Hunter 

there was yet time to adopt this expedient. I 
soon found that there was not. Half a mile from 
camp the trail dipped into a deep coulie, where 
fair-sized trees and dense undergrowth made a 
long winding row of brush and timber. The trail 
led right under the trees at the upper end of this 
coulie. As I galloped by I saw that the fire had 
struck the trees a quarter of a mile below me ; in 
the dried timber it instantly sprang aloft like a 
giant, and roared in a thunderous monotone as it 
swept up the coulie. I galloped to the hill ridge 
ahead, saw that the fire line had already reached 
the divide, and turned my horse sharp on his 
haunches. As I again passed under the trees, the 
fire, running like a race -horse in the brush, had 
reached the road ; its breath was hot in my face ; 
tongues of quivering flame leaped over my head 
and kindled the grass on the hillside fifty yards 
away. 

When I got back to camp Ferguson had taken 
measures for the safety of the wagon. He had 
moved it across the coulie, which at this point had 
a wet bottom, making a bar to the progress of the 
flames until they had time to work across lower 
down. Meanwhile we fought to keep the fire from 
entering the well-grassed space on the hither side 
of the coulie, between it and a row of scoria buttes. 
Favored by a streak of clay ground, where the 
grass was sparse, we succeeded in beating out the 



Frost, Fire, and Thirst loi 

flame as it reached this clay streak, and again 
beating it out when it ran round the buttes and 
began to back up towards us against the wind. 
Then we recrossed the couHe with the wagon, be- 
fore the fire swept up the farther side; and so, 
when the flames passed by, they left us camped on 
a green oasis in the midst of a charred, smoking 
desert. We thus saved some good grazing for 
our horses. 

But our fight with the fire had only begun. No 
stockman will see a fire waste the range and de- 
stroy the winter feed of the stock without spending 
every ounce of his strength in the effort to put a 
stop to its ravages — even when, as in our case, the 
force of men and horses at hand is so small as to 
offer only the very slenderest hope of success , 

We set about the task in the way customary in 
the cattle country. It is impossible for any but a 
very large force to make head against a prairie fire 
while there is any wind ; but the wind usually fails 
after nightfall, and accordingly the main fight is 
generally waged during the hours of darkness. 

Before dark we drove to camp and shot a stray 
steer, and then split its carcass in two lengthwise 
with an axe. After sundown the wind lulled ; and 
we started towards the line of fire, which was 
working across a row of broken grassy hills three 
quarters of a mile distant. Two of us were on 
horseback, dragging a half carcass, bloody side 



I02 The Wilderness Hunter 

down, by means of ropes leading from our saddle- 
horns to the fore and hind legs; the other two 
followed on foot with slickers and wet saddle 
blankets. There was a reddish glow in the night 
air, and the waving, bending lines of flame showed 
in great bright curves against the hillsides ahead 
of us. 

When we reached them, we found the fire burn- 
ing in a long, continuous line. It was not making 
rapid headway, for the air was still, and the flames 
stood upright, two or three feet high. Lengthen- 
ing the ropes, one of us spurred his horse across 
the fire line, and then, wheeling, we dragged the 
carcass along it ; one horseman being on the burnt 
ground, and one on the unburnt grass, while the 
body of the steer lay lengthwise across the line. 
The weight and the blood smothered the fire as 
we twitched the carcass over the burning grass; 
and the two men following behind with their 
blankets and slickers readily beating out any 
isolated tufts of flames. 

The fire made the horses wild, and it was not 
always easy to manage both them and the ropes, 
so as to keep the carcass true on the line. Some- 
times there would be a slight puff of wind, and 
then the man on the grass side of the line ran the 
risk of a scorching. We were blackened with 
smoke, and the taut ropes hurt our thighs ; while 
at times the plunging horses tried to buck or bolt 



Frost, Fire, and Thirst 103 

It was worse when we came to some deep gully or 
ravine, breaking the line of fire. Into this we of 
course had to plunge, so as to get across to the fire 
on the other side. After the glare of the flame the 
blackness of the ravine was Stygian ; we could see 
nothing, and simply spurred our horses into it any- 
where, taking our chances. Down we would go, 
stumbling, sliding, and pitching, over cut banks 
and into holes and bushes, while the carcass 
bounded behind, now catching on a stump, and 
now fetching loose with a *' pluck" that brought it 
full on the horses' haunches, driving them nearly 
crazy with fright. The pull up the opposite bank 
was, if anything, worse. 

By midnight the half -carcass was worn through ; 
but we had stifled the fire in the comparatively 
level country to the eastwards. Back we went to 
camp, drank huge draughts of muddy water, de- 
voured roast ox-ribs, and dragged out the other 
half carcass to fight the fire on the west. But 
after hours of wearing labor we found ourselves 
altogether baffled by the exceeding roughness of 
the ground. There was some little risk to us who 
were on horseback, dragging the carcass ; we had 
to feel our way along knife-like ridges in the dark, 
one ahead and the other behind, while the steer 
dangled over the precipice on one side; and in 
going down the buttes and into the canyons only 
by extreme care could we avoid getting tangled in 



I04 The Wilderness Hunter 

the ropes and rolling down in a heap. Moreover, 
the fire was in such rough places that the carcass 
could not be twitched fairly over it, and so we 
could not put it out. Before dawn we were 
obliged to abandon our fruitless efforts and seek 
camp, stiffened and weary. From a hill we looked 
back through the pitchy night at the fire we had 
failed to conquer. It had been broken into many 
lines by the roughness of the chasm-strewn and 
hilly country. Of these lines of flame some were in 
advance, some behind, some rushing forward in 
full blast and fury, some standing still ; here and 
there one wheeling towards a flank, or burning in 
a semicircle round an isolated hill. Some of the 
lines were flickering out; gaps were showing in 
others. In the darkness it looked like the rush of 
a mighty army, bearing triumphantly onwards, in 
spite of a resistance so stubborn as to break its 
formation into many fragments and cause each 
one of them to wage its own battle for victory or 
defeat. 

On the wide plains where the prongbuck dwells 
the hunter must sometimes face thirst, as well as 
fire and frost. The only time I ever really suffered 
from thirst was while hunting prongbuck. 

It was late in the summer. I was with the 
ranch- wagon on the way to join a round-up, and 
as we were out of meat I started for a day's hunt. 
Before leaving in the morning I helped to haul the 



Frost, Fire, and Thirst 105 

wagon across the river. It was fortunate I stayed, 
as it turned out. There was no regular ford where 
we made the crossing ; we anticipated no trouble, 
as the water was very low, the season being dry. 
However, we struck a quicksand, in which the 
wagon settled, while the frightened horses floun- 
dered helplessly. All the riders at once got their 
ropes on the wagon, and, hauling from the saddle, 
finally pulled it through. This took time ; and it 
was ten o'clock when I rode away from the river, 
at which my horse and I had just drunk — our last 
drink for over twenty-four hours, as it turned 
out. 

After two- or three hours' ride, up winding cou- 
lies, and through the scorched desolation of patches 
of Bad Lands, I reached the rolling prairie. The 
heat and drought had long burned the short grass 
dull brown ; the bottoms of what had been pools 
were covered with hard, dry, cracked earth. The 
day was cloudless, and the heat oppressive. There 
were many antelope, but I got only one shot, 
breaking a buck's leg; and, though I followed it 
for a couple of hours, I could not overtake it. By 
this time it was late in the afternoon, and I was 
far away from the river ; so I pushed for a creek, 
in the bed of which I had always found pools of 
water, especially toward the head, as is usual with 
plains watercourses. To my chagrin, however, 
they all proved to be dry ; and though I rode up 



io6 The Wilderness Hunter 

the creek bed toward the head, carefully searching 
for any sign of water, night closed on me before I 
found any. For two or three hours I stumbled on, 
leading my horse, in my fruitless search; then a 
tumble over a cut bank in the dark warned me 
that I might as well stay where I was for the rest 
of the warm night. Accordingly, I unsaddled the 
horse, and tied him to a sage-brush ; after awhile 
he began to feed on the dewy grass. At first I 
was too thirsty to sleep. Finally I fell into slum- 
ber, and when I awoke at dawn I felt no thirst. 
For an hour or two more I continued my search 
for water in the creek bed ; then abandoned it and 
rode straight for the river. By the time we 
reached it my thirst had come back with re- 
doubled force, my mouth was parched, and the 
horse was in quite as bad a plight ; we rushed down 
to the brink, and it seemed as if we could neither 
of us ever drink our fill of the tepid, rather muddy 
water. Of course this experience was merely un- 
pleasant ; thirst is not a source of real danger in 
the plains country proper, whereas in the hideous 
deserts that extend from southern Idaho through 
Utah and Nevada to Arizona, it ever menaces 
with death the hunter and explorer. 

In the plains the weather is apt to be in ex- 
tremes; the heat is tropical, the cold arctic, and 
the droughts are relieved by furious floods. These 
are generally most severe and lasting in the spring, 



Frost, Fire, and Thirst 107 

after the melting of the snow; and fierce local 
freshets follow the occasional cloudbursts. The 
large rivers then become wholly impassable, and 
even the smaller are formidable obstacles. It is 
not easy to get cattle across a swollen stream, 
where the current runs like a turbid mill-race over 
the bed of shifting quicksand. Once five of us took 
a thousand head of trail steers across the Little 
Missouri when the river was up, and it was no 
light task. The muddy current was boiling past 
the banks, covered with driftwood and foul yellow 
froth, and the frightened cattle shrank from en- 
tering it. At last, by hard riding, with much 
loud shouting and swinging of ropes, we got the 
leaders in, and the whole herd followed. After 
them we went in our turn, the horses swimming 
at one moment, and the next staggering and 
floundering through the quicksand. I was riding 
my pet cutting horse, Muley, which has the pro- 
voking habit of making great bounds where the 
water is just not deep enough for swimming ; once 
he almost unseated me. Some of the cattle were 
caught by the currents and rolled over and over; 
most of these we were able, with the help of our 
ropes, to put on their feet again; only one was 
drowned, or rather choked in a quicksand. Many 
swam down stream, and in consequence struck a 
difficult landing, where the river ran under a cut 
bank; these we had to haul out with our ropes. 



io8 The Wilderness Hunter 

Both men and horses were well tired by the time 
the whole herd was across. 

Although I have often had a horse down in 
quicksand, or in crossing a swollen river, and have 
had to work hard to save him, I have never myself 
lost one under such circumstances. Yet once I 
saw the horse of one of my men drown under 
him directly in front of the ranch-house, while 
he was trying to cross the river. This was in early 
spring, soon after the ice had broken. 

When making long wagon-trips over the great 
plains, antelope often offer the only source of meat 
supply, save for occasional water-fowl, sage-fowl, 
and prairie-fowl — the sharp-tailed prairie-fowl, be 
it understood. This is the characteristic grouse of 
the cattle country ; the true prairie-fowl is a bird of 
the farming land farther east. 

Towards the end of the summer of '92 I found it 
necessary to travel from my ranch to the Black 
Hills, some two hundred miles south. The ranch- 
wagon went with me, driven by an all-round 
plainsman, a man of iron nerves and varied past, 
the sheriff of our county. He was an old friend of 
mine ; at one time I had served as deputy-sheriff 
for the northern end of the coimty. In the wagon 
we carried our food and camp kit, and our three 
rolls of bedding, each wrapped in a thick, nearly 
waterproof canvas sheet ; we had a tent, but we 
never needed it. The load being light, the wagon 



Frost, Fire, and Thirst 109 

was drawn by but a span of horses — a pair of wild 
runaways, tough, and good travellers. My fore- 
jnan and I rode beside the wagon on our wiry, un- 
kempt, unshod cattle-ponies. They carried us all 
day at a rack, pace, single-foot, or slow lope, varied 
by rapid galloping when we made long circles 
after game ; the trot, the favorite gait with eastern 
park-riders, is disliked by all peoples who have to 
do much of their life-work in the saddle. 

The first day's ride was not attractive. The heat 
was intense and the dust stifling, as we had to 
drive some loose horses for the first few miles, and 
afterwards to ride up and down the sandy river- 
bed, where the cattle had gathered, to look over 
some young steers we had put on the range the 
preceding spring. When we did camp it was by a 
pool of stagnant water, in a creek bottom, and the 
mosquitoes were a torment. Nevertheless, as eve- 
ning fell, it was pleasant to climb a little knoll 
nearby and gaze at the rows of strangely colored 
buttes, grass-clad, or of bare earth and scoria, 
their soft reds and purples showing as through a 
haze, and their irregular outlines gradually losing 
their sharpness in the fading twilight. 

Next morning the weather changed, growing 
cooler, and we left the tangle of ravines and Bad 
Lands, striking out across the vast sea-like prairies. 
Hour after hour, under the bright sun, the wagon 
drew slowly ahead, over the immense rolling 



no The Wilderness Hunter 

stretches of short grass, dipping down each long 
slope until it reached the dry, imperfectly out- 
lined creek bed at the bottom, — wholly devoid of 
water and without so much as a shrub of wood, — 
and then ascending the gentle rise on the other 
side until at last it topped the broad divide, or 
watershed, beyond which lay the shallow, winding 
coulies of another creek system. From each rise 
of ground we looked far and wide over the sunlit 
prairie, with its interminable undulations. The 
sicklebill curlews which in spring, while breeding, 
hover above the travelling horseman with cease- 
less clamor, had for the most part gone southward. 
We saw only one small party of half a dozen birds ; 
they paid little heed to us, but piped to one another, 
making short flights, and on alighting stood erect, 
first spreading and then folding and setting their 
wings with a slow, graceful motion. Little horned 
larks continually ran along the ruts of the faint 
wagon-track, just ahead of the team, and twittered 
plaintively as they rose, while flocks of longspurs 
swept hither and thither, in fitful, irregular flight. 
My foreman and I usually rode far off to one 
side of the wagon, looking out for antelope. Of 
these we at first saw few, but they grew more 
plentiful as we journeyed onward, approaching a 
big, scantily wooded creek, where I had found the 
pronghorn abundant in previous seasons. They 
were very wary and watchful, whether going 



Frost, Fire, and Thirst in 

singly or in small parties, and the lay of the land 
made it exceedingly difficult to get within range. 
The last time I had hunted in this neighborhood 
was in the fall, at the height of the rutting season. 
Prongbucks, even more than other game, seem 
fairly maddened by erotic excitement. At the 
time of my former hunt they were in ceaseless 
motion ; each master buck being incessantly occu- 
pied in herding his harem, and fighting would-be 
rivals, while single bucks chased single does as 
greyhounds chase hares, or else, if no does were in 
sight, from sheer excitement ran to and fro as if 
crazy, racing at full speed in one direction, then 
halting, wheeling, and tearing back again just as 
hard as they could go. 

At this time, however, the rut was still some 
weeks off, and all the bucks had to do was to feed 
and keep a lookout for enemies. Try my best, I 
could not get within less than four or five hundred 
yards, and though I took a number of shots at 
these, or at even longer distances, I missed. If a 
man is out merely for a day's hunt, and has all the 
time he wishes, he will not scare the game and 
waste cartridges by shooting at such long ranges, 
preferring to spend half a day or more in patient 
waiting and careful stalking ; but if he is travelling, 
and is therefore cramped for time, he must take 
his chances, even at the cost of burning a good 
deal of powder. 



112 The Wilderness Hunter 

I was finally helped to success by a characteris- 
tic freak of the game I was following. No other 
animals are as keen-sighted, or are normally as 
wary as pronghorns ; but no others are so whim- 
sical and odd in their behavior at times, or so sub- 
ject to fits of the most stupid curiosity and panic. 
Late in the afternoon, on topping a rise, I saw two 
good bucks racing off about three hundred yards 
to one side; I sprang to the ground, and fired 
three shots at them in vain, as they ran like quar- 
ter-horses until they disappeared over a slight 
swell. In a minute, however, back they came, 
suddenly appearing over the crest of the same 
swell, immediately in front of me, and, as I after- 
wards found by pacing, some three hundred and 
thirty yards away. They stood side by side facing 
me, and remained motionless, unheeding the crack 
of the Winchester ; I aimed at the right-hand one, 
but a front shot of the kind, at such a distance, is 
rather difficult, and it was not until I fired for the 
fourth time that he sank back out of sight. I 
could not tell whether I had killed him, and took 
two shots at his mate, as the latter went off, but 
without effect. Running forward, I found the first 
one dead, the bullet having gone through him 
lengthwise ; the other did not seem satisfied even 
yet, and kept hanging round in the distance for 
some minutes, looking at us. 

I had thus bagged one prongbuck, as the net 



Frost, Fire, and Thirst 113 

outcome of the expenditure of fourteen cartridges. 
This was certainly not good shooting ; but neither 
was it as bad as it would seem to the man inex- 
perienced in antelope hunting. When fresh meat 
is urgently needed, and when time is too short, the 
hunter who is after antelope in an open, fiattish 
country must risk many long shots. In no other 
kind of hunting is there so much long-distance 
shooting, or so many shots fired for every head of 
game bagged. 

Throwing the buck into the wagon we continued 
our journey across the prairie, no longer following 
any road, and before sunset jolted down towards 
the big creek for which we had been heading. 
There were many water-holes therein, and timber 
of considerable size ; box-alder and ash grew here 
and there in clumps and fringes, beside the ser- 
pentine curves of the nearly dry torrent bed, the 
growth being thickest under the shelter of the 
occasional low bluffs. We drove down to a heavily 
grassed bottom, near a deep, narrow pool, with, at 
one end, that rarest of luxuries in the plains 
country, a bubbling spring of pure, cold water. 
With plenty of wood, delicious water, ample feed 
for the horses, and fresh meat we had every com- 
fort and luxury incident to camp life in good 
weather. The bedding was tossed out on a smooth 
spot beside the wagon; the horses were watered 
and tethered to picket-pins where the feed was 



114 The Wilderness Hunter 

best ; water was fetched from the spring ; a deep 
hole was dug for the fire, and the grass round about 
carefully burned off; and in a few moments the 
bread was baking in the Dutch oven, the potatoes 
were boiling, antelope steaks were sizzling in the 
frying-pan, and the kettle was ready for the tea. 
After supper, eaten with the relish known well to 
every hardworking and successful hunter, we sat 
for half an hour or so round the fire, and then 
turned in under the blankets, pulled the tarpaulins 
over us, and listened drowsily to the wailing of the 
coyotes until we fell sound asleep. 

We determined to stay in this camp all day, so 
as to try and kill another prongbuck, as we 
would soon be past the good hunting-grounds. I 
did not have to go far for my game next morning, 
for soon after breakfast, while sitting on my can- 
vas bag cleaning my rifle, the sheriff suddenly 
called to me that a bunch of antelope was coming 
towards us. Sure enough there they were, four in 
number, rather over half a mile off, on the first 
bench of the prairie, two or three hundred yards 
back from the creek, leisurely feeding in our direc- 
tion. In a minute or two they were out of sight, 
and I instantly ran along the creek towards them 
for a quarter of a mile, and then crawled up a 
short, shallow coulie, close to the head of which 
they seemed likely to pass. When nearly at the 
end I cautiously raised my hatless head, peered 



Frost, Fire, and Thirst 115 

through some straggling weeds, and at once saw 
the horns of the buck. He was a big fellow, about 
a hundred and twenty yards off ; the others, a doe 
and two kids, were in front. As I lifted myself 
on my elbows he halted and turned his raised head 
towards me; the sunlight shone bright on his 
supple, vigorous body with its markings of sharply 
contrasted brown and white. I pulled trigger, 
and away he went ; but I could see that his race 
was nearly run, and he fell after going a few hun- 
dred yards. 

Soon after this a windstorm blew up, so violent 
that we could hardly face it. In the late after- 
noon it died away, and I again walked out to 
hunt, but saw only does and kids, at which I 
would not shoot. As the sun set, leaving bars of 
amber and pale red in the western sky, the air be- 
came absolutely calm. In the waning evening the 
low, far-off ridges were touched with a violet light ; 
then the hues grew sombre, and still darkness fell 
on the lonely prairie. 

Next morning we drove to the river, and kept 
near it for several days, most of the time following 
the tracks made by the heavy wagons accompany- 
ing the trail-herds — this being one of the regular 
routes followed by the great throng of slow-moving 
cattle yearly driven from the south. At other 
times we made our own road. Twice or thrice 
we passed ranch -houses ; the men being absent 



ii6 The Wilderness Hunter 

on the round-up, they were shut, save one, which 
was inhabited by two or three lean Texan cow- 
punchers, with sun-burned faces and reckless 
eyes, who had come up with a trail-herd from the 
Cherokee strip. Once, near the old Sioux crossing, 
where the Dakota war-bands used to ford the river 
on their forays against the Crows and the settlers 
along the Yellowstone, we met a large horse-herd. 
The tough, shabby, tired-looking animals, one or 
two of which were loaded with bedding and a 
scanty supply of food, were driven by three travel- 
worn, hard-faced men, with broad hats, shaps, and 
long pistols in their belts. They had brought the 
herd over plain and mountain pass all the way 
from far distant Oregon. 

It was a wild, rough country, bare of trees, save 
for a fringe of cottonwoods along the river, and 
occasional clumps of cedar on the jagged, brown 
buttes; as we went farther the hills turned the 
color of chalk, and were covered with a growth of 
pine. We came upon acres of sunflowers as we 
journeyed southward ; they are not as tall as they 
are in the rich bottom lands of Kansas, where the 
splendid blossoms, on their strong stalks, stand as 
high as the head of a man on horseback. 

Though there were many cattle here, big game 
was scarce. However, I killed plenty of prairie- 
chickens and sage-hens for the pot; and as the 
sage-hens were still feeding largely on crickets 



Frost, Fire, and Thirst 117 

and grasshoppers, and not exclusively on sage, 
they were just as good eating as the prairie- 
chickens. I used the rifle, cutting off their heads 
or necks, and, as they had to be shot on the 
ground, and often while in motion, or else while 
some distance away, it was more difficult than 
shooting off the heads of grouse in the mountains, 
where the birds sit motionless in trees. The head 
is a small mark, while to hit the body is usually to 
spoil the bird ; so I found that I averaged three or 
four cartridges for every head neatly taken off, 
the remaining shots representing spoiled birds and 
misses. 

For the last sixty or seventy miles of our trip 
we left the river and struck off across a great, deso- 
late gumbo prairie. There was no game, no wood 
for fuel, and the rare water-holes were far apart, 
so that we were glad when, as we toiled across the 
monotonous succession of long, swelling ridges, 
the dim, cloud-like mass, looming vague and purple 
on the rim of the horizon ahead of us, gradually 
darkened and hardened into the bold outline of 
the Black Hills. 



CHAPTER VI 

AMONG THE HIGH HILLS; THE BIGHORN OR MOUN- 
TAIN SHEEP 

DURING the summer of 1886 I hunted 
chiefly to keep the ranch in meat. It 
was a very pleasant summer; although 
it was followed by the worst winter we ever wit- 
nessed on the plains. I was much at the ranch, 
where I had a good deal of writing to do; but 
every week or two I left, to ride among the line 
camps, or spend a few days on any round-up 
which happened to be in the neighborhood. 

These days of vigorous work among the cattle 
were themselves full of pleasure. At dawn we 
were in the saddle, the morning air cool in our 
faces; the red sunrise saw us loping across the 
grassy reaches of prairie land, or climbing in single 
file among the rugged buttes. All the forenoon we 
spent riding the long circle with the cow-punchers 
of the round-up ; in the afternoon we worked the 
herd, cutting the cattle, with much breakneck 
galloping and dextrous halting and wheeling. 
Then came the excitement and hard labor of rop- 
ing, throwing, and branding the wild and vigorous 

118 



Among the High Hills 119 

range calves — in a corral, if one was handy ; other- 
wise, in a ring of horsemen. Soon after nightfall 
we lay down — in a log hut or tent, if at a line camp ; 
under the open sky, if with the round-up wagon. 

After ten days or so of such work, in which 
every man had to do his full share, — for laggards 
and idlers, no matter who, get no mercy in the real 
and healthy democracy of the round-up, — I would 
go back to the ranch to turn to my books with 
added zest for a fortnight. Yet even during these 
weeks at the ranch there was some outdoor work ; 
for I was breaking two or three colts. I took my 
time, breaking them gradually and gently — not, 
after the usual cowboy fashion, in a hurry, by 
sheer main strength and rough riding, with the at- 
tendant danger to the limbs of the man and very 
probable ruin to the manners of the horse. We 
rose early; each morning I stood on the low- 
roofed verandah, looking out, under the line of 
murmuring, glossy-leaved cottonwoods, across the 
shallow river, to see the sun flame above the line of 
bluffs opposite. In the evening I strolled off for 
an hour or two's walk, rifle in hand. The roomy, 
home-like ranch-house, with its log walls, shingled 
roof, and big chimneys and fireplaces, stands in a 
glade, in the midst of the thick forest, which covers 
half the bottom ; behind rises, bare and steep, the 
wall of peaks, ridges, and table-lands. 

During the summer in question, I once or twice 



I20 The Wilderness Hunter 

shot a whitetail buck right on this large bottom; 
once or twice I killed a blacktail in the hills behind, 
not a mile from the ranch-house. Several times I 
killed and brought in prongbucks, rising before 
dawn, and riding off on a good horse for an all- 
day's hunt in the rolling prairie country, twelve or 
fifteen miles away. Occasionally I took the wagon 
and one of the men, driving to some good hunting- 
ground and spending a night or two; usually re- 
turning with two or three prongbucks, and once 
with an elk — but this was later in the fall. Not 
infrequently I went away by myself on horseback 
for a couple of days, when all the men were on the 
round-up, and when I wished to hunt thoroughly 
some country quite a distance from the ranch. 
I made one such hunt in late August, because I 
happened to hear that a small bunch of mountain 
sheep were haunting a tract of very broken 
ground, with high hills, about fifteen miles away. 

I left the ranch early in the morning, riding my 
favorite hunting-horse, old Manitou. The blanket 
and oilskin slicker were rolled and strapped be- 
hind the saddle; for provisions I carried salt, a 
small bag of hardtack, and a little tea and sugar, 
with a metal cup in which to boil my water. The 
rifle and a score of cartridges in my woven belt 
completed my outfit. On my journey I shot two 
prairie-chickens from a covey in the bottom of a 
brush coulie. 



Among the High Hills 121 

I rode more than six hours before reaching a 
good spot to camp. At first my route lay across 
grassy plateaus, and along smooth, wooded cou- 
lies ; but after a few miles the ground became very 
rugged and difficult. At last I got into the heart 
of the Bad Lands proper, where the hard, v/rinkled 
earth was torn into shapes as sullen and grotesque 
as those of dreamland. The hills rose high, their 
barren flanks carved and channelled, their tops 
mere needles and knife crests. Bands of black, 
red, and purple varied the gray and yellow-brown 
of their sides ; the tufts of scanty vegetation were 
dull green. Sometimes I rode my horse at the 
Dottom of narrow washouts, between straight 
walls of clay, but a few feet apart; sometimes I 
had to lead him as he scrambled up, down, and 
across the sheer faces of the buttes. The glare 
from the bare clay walls dazzled the eye ; the air 
was burning under the hot August sun. I saw 
nothing living except the rattlesnakes, of which 
there were very many. 

At last, in the midst of this deviFs wilderness, I 
came on a lovely valley. A spring trickled out of 
a cedar canyon, and below this spring the narrow, 
deep ravine was green with luscious grass, and 
was smooth for some hundreds of yards. Here I 
unsaddled, and turned old Manitou loose to drink 
and feed at his leisure. At the edge of the dark 
cedar wood I cleared a spot for my bed, and drew 



122 The Wilderness Hunter 

a few dead sticks for the fire. Then I lay down 
and watched drowsily until the afternoon shadows 
filled the wild and beautiful gorge in which I was 
camped. This happened early, for the valley was 
very narrow and the hills on either hand were 
steep and high. 

Springing to my feet, I climbed the nearest 
ridge, and then made my way, by hard clamber- 
ing, from peak to peak and from crest to crest , 
sometimes crossing and sometimes skirting the 
deep washouts and canyons. When possible, I 
avoided appearing on the sky-line, and I moved 
with the utmost caution, walking in a wide sweep 
so as to hunt across and up wind. There was 
much sheep sign, some of it fresh, though I saw 
none of the animals themselves ; the square slots, 
with the indented marks of the toe points wide 
apart, contrasting strongly with the heart-shaped 
and delicate footprints of deer. The animals had, 
according to their habit, beaten trails along the 
summits of the higher crests ; little side-trails lead- 
ing to any spur, peak, or other vantage point from 
which there was a wide outlook over the country 
roundabout. 

The bighorns of the Bad Lands, unlike those of 
the mountains, shift their range but little, winter 
or summer. Save in the breeding season, when 
each master ram gets together his own herd, the 
ewes, lambs, and yearlings are apt to go in bands 



The Bighorn or Mountain Sheep 123 

by themselves, while the males wander in small 
parties; now and then a very morose old fellow 
lives by himself, in some precipitous, out-of-the- 
way retreat. The rut begins with them much 
later than with deer; the exact time varies with 
the locality, but it is always after the bitter winter 
weather has set in. Then the old rams fight 
fiercely together, and on rare occasions utter a 
long grunting bleat or call. They are marvellous 
climbers, and dwell by choice always among cliffs 
and jagged, broken ground, whether wooded or 
not. An old bighorn ram is heavier than the 
largest buck ; his huge, curved horns, massive yet 
supple build, and proud bearing mark him as one 
of the noblest beasts of the chase. He is wary; 
great skill and caution must be shown in approach- 
ing him; and no one but a good climber, with a 
steady head, sound lungs, and trained muscles, 
can successfully hunt him in his own rugged fast- 
nesses. The chase of no other kind of American 
big game ranks higher, or more thoroughly tests 
the manliest qualities of the hunter. 

I walked back to camp in the gloaming, taking 
care to reach it before it grew really dark ; for in 
the Bad Lands it is entirely impossible to travel, 
or to find any given locality, after nightfall. Old 
Manitou had eaten his fill and looked up at me 
with pricked ears and wise, friendly face as I 
climbed down the side of the cedar canyon ; then 



124 The Wilderness Hunter 

he came slowly towards me to see if I had not 
something for him. I rubbed his soft nose and 
gave him a cracker ; then I picketed him to a soli- 
tary cedar, where the feed was good. Afterwards 
I kindled a small fire, roasted both prairie-fowl, 
ate one, and put the other by for breakfast ; and 
soon rolled myself in my blanket, with the saddle 
for a pillow, and the oilskin beneath. Manitou 
was munching the grass nearby. I lay just out- 
side the line of stiff black cedars; the night air 
was soft in my face; I gazed at the shining and 
brilliant multitude of stars until my eyelids closed. 
The chill breath which comes before dawn 
awakened me^ It was still and dark. Through 
the gloom I could indistinctly make out the loom 
of the old horse, lying down, I was speedily 
ready, and groped and stumbled slowly up the 
hill, and then along its crest to a peak. Here I 
sat down and waited a quarter of an hour or so, 
until gray appeared in the east, and the dim 
light-streaks enabled me to walk farther. Before 
sunrise I was two miles from camp ; then I crawled 
cautiously to a high ridge and, crouching behind it, 
scanned all the landscape eagerly. In a few min- 
utes a movement about a third of a mile to the 
right, midway down a hill, caught my eve. An- 
other glance showed me three Vs^hite specks moviii^ 
along the hillside. They were the white rumps of 
three fine mountain sheep, on their way to drink 



The Bighorn or Mountain Sheep 125 

at a little alkaline pool in the bottom of a deep, 
narrow valley. In a moment they went out of 
sight round a bend of the valley ; and I rose and 
trotted briskly towards them, along the ridge. 
There were two or three deep gullies to cross, and 
a high shoulder over which to clamber ; so I was 
out of breath when I reached the bend beyond 
which they had disappeared. Taking advantage 
of a scrawny sage-brush as cover, I peeped over the 
edge, and at once saw the sheep — three big young 
rams. They had finished drinking, and were 
standing beside the little miry pool, about three 
hundred yards distant. Slipping back, I dropped 
down into the bottom of the valley, where a nar- 
row washout zigzagged from side to side, between 
straight walls of clay. The pool was in the upper 
end of this washout, under a cut bank. 

An indistinct game trail, evidently sometimes 
used by both bighorn and blacktail, ran up this 
washout ; the bottom was of clay, so that I walked 
noiselessly ; and the crookedness of the washout's 
course afforded ample security against discovery 
by the sharp eyes of the quarry. In a couple of 
minutes I stalked stealthily round the last bend, 
my rifle cocked and at the ready, expecting to see 
the rams by the pool. However, they had gone, 
and the muddy water was settling in their deep 
hoof -marks. Running on, I looked over the edge 
of the cut bank and saw them slowly quartering 



126 The Wilderness Hunter 

up the hillside, cropping the sparse tufts of coarse 
grass. I whistled, and as they stood at gaze I 
put a bullet into the biggest, a little too far aft of 
the shoulder, but ranging forward. He raced 
after the others, but soon fell behind, and turned 
off on his own line, at a walk, with drooping head. 
As he bled freely, I followed his tracks, found him, 
very sick, in a washout a quarter of a mile beyond, 
and finished him with another shot. After dress- 
ing him, and cutting off the saddle and hams, as 
well as the head, I walked back to camp, break- 
fasted, and rode Manitou to where the sheep lay. 
Packing it securely behind the saddle, and shifting 
the blanket-roll to in front of the saddle-horn, I 
led the horse until we were clear of the Bad Lands ; 
then mounted him, and was back at the ranch soon 
after midday. The mutton of a fat young moun- 
tain ram, at this season of the year, is delicious. 

Such quick success is rare in hunting sheep. 
Generally each head has cost me several days of 
hard, faithful work; and more than once I have 
hunted over a week without any reward whatso- 
ever. But the quarry is so noble that the ulti- 
mate triumph — sure to come, if the hunter will 
but persevere long enough — atones for all pre- 
vious toil and failure. 

Once a lucky stalk and shot at a bighorn was 
almost all that redeemed a hunt in the Rockies 
from failure. I was high among the mountains 



The Bighorn or Mountain Sheep 127 

at the time, but was dogged by ill luck; I had 
seen but little, and I had not shot very well. One 
morning I rose early, and hunted steadily until 
midday without seeing anything. A mountain 
hunter was with me. At noon we sat down to 
rest, and look over the country, from behind a 
shield of dwarf evergreens, on the brink of a 
mighty chasm. The rocks fell downwards in huge 
cliffs, stern and barren; from far below rose the 
strangled roaring of the torrent, as the foaming 
masses of green and white water churned round 
the boulders in the stream bed. Except this 
humming of the wild water, and the soughing of 
the pines, there was no sound. We were sitting 
on a kind of jutting promontory of rock, so that we 
could scan the cliffs far and near. First, I took the 
glasses, and scrutinized the ground almost rod by 
rod, for nearly half an hour ; then my companion 
took them in turn. It is very hard to make out 
game, especially when lying down, and still; and 
it is curious to notice how, after fruitlessly scan- 
ning a country through the glasses for a consid- 
erable period, a herd of animals will suddenly 
appear in the field of vision as if by magic. In 
this case, while my companion held the glasses for 
the second time, a slight motion caught his eye ; 
and looking attentively he made out, five or six 
hundred yards distant, a mountain ram lying 
among some loose rocks and small bushes at the 



128 The Wilderness Hunter 

head of a little grassy cove or nook, in a shallow 
break between two walls of the cliff. So well did 
the bluish gray of its body harmonize in tint with 
the rocks and shrubbery that it was some time 
before I could see it, even when pointed out to me. 
The wind was favorable, and we at once drew 
back and began a cautious stalk. It was impos- 
sible, owing to the nature of the cliffs above and 
below the bighorn's resting-place, to get a shot 
save by creeping along nearly on a level with him. 
Accordingly we worked our way down through a 
big cleft in the rocks, being forced to go very 
slowly and carefully lest we should start a loose 
stone, and at last reached a narrow terrace of 
rock and grass, along which we walked compara- 
tively at our ease. Soon it dwindled away, and 
we then had to do our only difficult piece of climb- 
ing — a clamber for fifty or sixty feet across a steep 
cliff shoulder. Some little niches and cracks in 
the rock and a few projections and diminutive 
ledges on its surface, barely enabled us to swarm 
across, with painstaking care — not merely to 
avoid alarming the game this time, but also to 
avoid a slip which would have proved fatal. Once 
across, we came on a long, grassy shelf, leading 
round a shoulder into the cleft where the ram lay. 
As I neared the end I crept forward on hands and 
knees, and then crawled fiat, shoving the rifle 
ahead of me, until I rounded the shoulder and 



The Bighorn or Mountain Sheep 129 

peered into the rift. As my eyes fell on the ram 
he sprang to his feet, with a clatter of loose stones, 
and stood facing me, some sixty yards off, his dark 
face and white muzzle brought out finely by the 
battered, curved horns. I shot into his chest, 
hitting him in the sticking-place ; and after a few 
mad bounds he tumbled headlong, and fell a very 
great distance, unfortunately injuring one horn. 

When much hunted, bighorn become the wariest 
of all American game, and their chase is then 
peculiarly laborious and exciting. But where 
they have known nothing of men, not having been 
molested by hunters, they are exceedingly tame. 
Professor John Bache McMaster informs me that 
in 1877 he penetrated to the Uintah Mountains of 
Wyoming, which were then almost unknown to 
hunters ; he found all the game very bold, and the 
wild sheep in particular so unsuspicious that he 
could walk up to within short rifle-range of them 
in the open. 

On the high mountains bighorn occasionally 
get killed by a snow-slide. My old friend, the 
hunter Woody, once saw a band which started 
such an avalanche by running along a steep slop- 
ing snow-field, it being in the spring; for several 
hundred yards it thundered at their heels, but by 
desperate racing they just managed to get clear. 
Woody was also once an eye-witness to the rav- 
ages the cougar commits among these wild sheep. 



I30 The Wilderness Hunter 

He was stalking a band in the snow when he saw 
them suddenly scatter at a run in every direction. 
Coming up he found the traces of a struggle, 
and the track of a body being dragged through 
the snow, together with the round footmarks of the 
cougar; a little farther on lay a dead ewe, the 
blood flowing from the fang wounds in her throat. 



CHAPTER VII 

MOUNTAIN game; THE WHITE-GOAT 

LATE one August I started on a trip to the 
Big Hole Basin, in western Montana, to 
hunt white -goats. With me went a friend 
of many hunts, John Willis, a tried mountain-man. 
We left the railroad at the squalid little hamlet 
of Divide, where we hired a team and wagon from 
a '* busted " granger, suspected of being a Mormon, 
who had failed, even with the help of irrigation, 
in raising a crop. The wagon was in fairly good 
order ; the harness was rotten, and needed patch- 
ing with ropes; while the team consisted of two 
spoiled horses, overworked and thin, but full of 
the devil the minute they began to pick up condi- 
tion. However, on the frontier one soon grows to 
accept little facts of this kind with bland indiffer- 
ence ; and Willis was not only an expert teamster, 
but possessed that inexhaustible fertility of re- 
source and unfailing readiness in an emergency 
so characteristic of the veteran of the border. 
Through hard experience he had become master of 
plainscraft and woodcraft, skilled in all frontier 
lore. 

For a couple of days we jogged up the valley of 

131 



132 The Wilderness Hunter 

the Big Hole River, along the mail road. At 
night we camped under our wagon. At the mouth 
of the stream the valley was a mere gorge, but it 
broadened steadily the farther up we went, till 
the rapid river wound through a wide expanse of 
hilly, treeless prairie. On each side the mountains 
rose, their lower flanks and the foothills covered 
with the evergreen forest. We got milk and bread 
at the scattered log-houses of the few settlers; 
and for meat we shot sage-fowl, which abounded. 
Th^y were feeding on grasshoppers at this time, 
and the flesh, especially of the young birds, was as 
tender and well tasting as possible ; whereas, when 
we again passed through the valley in September, 
we found the birds almost uneatable, being fairly 
bitter with sage. Like all grouse, they are far 
tamer earlier in the season than later, being very 
wild in winter; and, of course, they are boldest 
where they are least hunted; but for some un- 
explained reason they are always tamer than the 
sharp-tail prairie-fowl which are to be found in the 
same locality. 

Finally, we reached the neighborhood of the 
Battle Ground, where a rude stone monument 
commemorates the bloody drawn fight between 
General Gibbons 's soldiers and the Nez Perces 
warriors of Chief Joseph. Here, on the third day 
of our journey, we left the beaten road and turned 
toward the mountains, following an indistinct 



Mountain Game 133 

trail made by wood-choppers. We met with our 
full share of the usual mishaps incident to prairie 
travel; and towards evening our team got mired 
in crossing a slough. We attempted the crossing 
with some misgivings, which were warranted by 
the result; for the second plunge of the horses 
brought them up to their bellies in the morass, 
where they stuck. It was freezing cold, with a 
bitter wind blowing, and the bog holes were 
skimmed with ice ; so that we passed a thoroughly 
wretched two hours while freeing the horses and 
unloading the wagon. However, we eventually 
got across; my companion preserving an abso- 
lutely unruffled temper throughout, perse veringly 
whistling the ** Arkansas Traveller." At one pe- 
riod, when we were up to our waists in the icy 
mud, it began to sleet and hail, and I muttered 
that I would "rather it did n't storm"; whereat 
he stopped whistling for a moment to make the 
laconic rejoinder, "We 're not having our rathers 
this trip." 

At nightfall we camped among the willow bushes 
by a little brook. For firewood we had only dead 
willow sticks ; they made a hot blaze which soon 
died out ; and as the cold grew intense, we rolled 
up in our blankets as soon as we had eaten our 
supper. The climate of the Big Hole Basin is 
alpine; that night, though it was the 20th of Au- 
gust, the thermometer sank to 10° F. 



134 The Wilderness Hunter 

Early next morning we struck camp, shivering 
with cold as we threw the stiff, frozen harness on 
the horses. We soon got among the foot-hills, 
where the forest was open and broken by large 
glades, forming what is called a park country. The 
higher we went the smaller grew the glades and 
the denser the woodland ; and it began to be very 
difficult to get the wagon forward. In many 
places one man had to go ahead to pick out the 
way, and, if necessary, to do a little chopping and 
lopping with the axe, while the other followed, 
driving the team. At last we were brought to a 
standstill, and pitched camp beside a rapid, alder- 
choked brook in the uppermost of a series of rolling 
glades, hemmed in by mountains and the dense 
coniferous forest. Our tent stood under a grove 
of pines, close to the brook ; at night we built in 
front of it a big fire of crackling, resinous logs. 
Our goods were sheltered by the wagon, or cov- 
ered with a tarpaulin; we threw down sprays of 
odorous evergreens to make a resting-place for our 
bedding ; we built small scaffolds on which to dry 
the flesh of elk and deer. In an hour or two we 
had round us all the many real comforts of such a 
little wilderness home. 

Whoever has long roamed and hunted in the 
wilderness always cherishes with wistful pleasure 
the memory of some among the countless camps 
he has made. The camp by the margin of the 



Mountain Game 135 

clear, mountain-hemmed lake; the camp in the 
dark and melancholy forest, where the gusty wind 
booms through the tall pine tops ; the camp under 
gnarled cottonwoods, on the bank of a shrunken 
river, in the midst of endless grassy prairies, — of 
these, and many like them, each has had its own 
charm. Of course, in hunting one must expect 
much hardship and repeated disappointment ; and 
in many a camp, bad weather, lack of shelter, hun- 
ger, thirst, or ill success with game, renders the days 
and nights irksome and trying. Yet the hunter 
worthy of the name always willingly takes the 
bitter if by so doing he can get the sweet, and 
gladly balances failure and success, spurning the 
poorer souls who know neither. 

We turned our horses loose, hobbling one ; and 
as we did not look after them for several days, 
nothing but my companion's skill as a tracker 
enabled us to find them again. There was a spell 
of warm weather which brought out a few of the 
big bull-dog flies, which drive a horse — or indeed a 
man — nearly frantic; we were in the haunts of 
these dreaded and terrible scourges, which up to 
the beginning of August render it impossible to 
keep stock of any description unprotected, but 
which are never formidable after the first frost. 
In many parts of the wilderness these pests, or 
else the incredible swarms of mosquitoes, black- 
flies, and buffalo-gnats, render life not worth 



13^ The Wilderness Hunter 

living during the last weeks of spring and the 
early months of summer. 

There were elk and deer in the neighborhood; 
also ruffed, blue, and spruce grouse; so that our 
camp was soon stocked with meat. Early one 
morning, while Willis was washing in the brook, a 
little black bear thrust its sharp nose through the 
alders a few feet from him, and then hastily with- 
drew and was seen no more. The smaller wild 
folk were more familiar. As usual in the northern 
mountains, the gray moose-birds and voluble, ner- 
vous little chipmunks made themselves at home 
in the camp. Parties of chickadees visited us oc- 
casionally. A family of flying squirrels lived 
overhead in the grove ; and at nightfall they swept 
noiselessly from tree to tree, in long, graceful 
curves. There were sparrows of several kinds 
moping about in the alders; and now and then 
one of them would sing a few sweet, rather mourn- 
ful bars. 

After several days' preliminary exploration we 
started on foot for white-goat. We took no packs 
with us, each carrying merely his jacket, with a 
loaf of bread and a paper of salt thrust into the 
pockets. Our aim was to get well to one side of a 
cluster of high, bare peaks, and then to cross them 
and come back to camp; we reckoned that the 
trip would take three days. 

All the first day we tramped through dense 



The White-Goat . 137 

woods and across and around steep mountain 
spurs. We caught glimpses of two or three deer 
and a couple of elk, all does or fawns, however, 
which we made no effort to molest. Late in the 
afternoon we stumbled across a family of spruce 
grouse, which furnished us material for both sup- 
per and breakfast. The mountain-men call this 
bird the fool-hen; and most certainly it deserves 
the name. The members of this particular flock, 
consisting of a hen and her three-parts grown 
chickens, acted with a stupidity unwonted even 
for their kind. They were feeding on the ground 
among some young spruce, and on our approach 
flew up and perched in the branches four or five 
feet above our heads. There they stayed, utter- 
ing a low, complaining whistle, and showed not 
the slightest suspicion when we came underneath 
them with long sticks and knocked four off their 
perches — for we did not wish to alarm any large 
game that might be in the neighborhood by firing. 
One particular bird was partially saved from my 
first blow by the intervening twigs; however, it 
merely flew a few yards, and then sat with its bill 
open, — having evidently been a little hurt, — until 
I came up and knocked it over with a better di- 
rected stroke. 

Spruce grouse are plentiful in the mountain 
forests of the northern Rockies, and, owing to 
the ease with which they are killed, they have 



138 The Wilderness Hunter 

furnished me my usual provender when off on trips 
of this kind, where I carried no pack. They are 
marvellously tame and stupid. The young birds 
are the only ones I have ever killed in this manner 
with a stick ; but even a full-plumaged old cock in 
September is easily slain with a stone by any one 
who is at all a good thrower. A man who has 
played much base-ball need never use a gun when 
after spruce grouse. They are the smallest of the 
grouse kind ; the cock is very handsome, with red 
eyebrows and dark glossy plumage. Moreover, he 
is as brave as he is stupid and good-looking, and in 
the love season becomes fairly crazy ; at such time 
he will occasionally make a feint of attacking a 
man, strutting, fluttering, and ruffling his feathers. 
The flesh of the spruce grouse is not so good as 
that of his ruffed and blue kinsfolk ; and in winter, 
when he feeds on spruce buds, it is ill tasting. I 
have never been able to understand why closely 
allied species, under apparently the same sur- 
roundings, should differ so radically in such im- 
portant traits as wariness and capacity to escape 
from foes. Yet the spruce grouse in this respect 
shows the most marked contrast to the blue grouse 
and the ruffed grouse. Of course, all three kinds 
vary greatly in their behavior, accordingly as they 
do or do not live in localities where they have 
been free from man's persecutions. The ruffed 
grouse, a very wary game bird in all old-settled 



The White-Goat 139 

regions, is often absurdly tame in the wilderness ; 
and, under persecution, even the spruce grouse 
gains some little wisdom ; but the latter never be- 
comes as wary as the former, and under no cir- 
cumstances is it possible to outwit the niffed 
grouse by such clumsy means as serve for his 
simple-minded brother. There is a similar differ- 
ence between the sage-fowl and prairie-fowl, in fa- 
vor of the latter. It is odd that the largest and the 
smallest kinds of grouse found in the United States 
should be the tamest ; and also the least savory. 

After tramping all day through the forest, at 
nightfall we camped in its upper edge, just at the 
foot of the steep rock walls of the mountain. We 
chose a sheltered spot, where the small spruce 
grew thick, and there was much dead timber ; and 
as the logs, though long, were of little girth, we 
speedily dragged together a number sufficient to 
keep the fire blazing all night. Having drunk our 
full at a brook we cut two forked willow sticks, and 
then each plucked a grouse, split it, thrust the 
willow-fork into it, and roasted it before the fire. 
Besides this, we had salt and bread; moreover, 
we were hungry and healthily tired ; so the supper 
seemed, and was, delicious. Then we turned up 
the collars of our jackets, and lay down, to pass 
the night in broken slumber; each time the fire 
died down the chill waked us, and we rose to feed 
it with fresh logs. 



HO The Wilderness Hunter 

At dawn we rose, and cooked and ate the two 
remaining grouse. Then we turned our faces 
upwards, and passed a day of severe toil in chmb- 
ing over the crags. Mountaineering is very hard 
work; and when we got high among the peaks, 
where snow filled the rifts, the thinness of the air 
forced me to stop for breath every few hundred 
yards of the ascent. We found much sign of 
white-goats, but in spite of steady work and in- 
cessant careful scanning of the rocks, we did not 
see our quarry until early in the afternoon. 

We had clambered up one side of a steep saddle 
of naked rock, some of the scarped ledges being 
difficult, and indeed dangerous, of ascent. From 
the top of the saddle a careful scrutiny of the 
neighboring peaks failed to reveal any game, and 
we began to go down the other side. The moun- 
tain fell away in a succession of low cliffs, and we 
had to move with the utmost caution. In letting 
ourselves down from ledge to ledge one would hold 
the guns until the other got safe footing, and then 
pass them down to him. In many places we had 
to work our way along the cracks in the faces of 
the frost-riven rocks. At last, just as we reached 
a little smooth shoulder, my companion said, 
pointing down beneath us: ''Look at the white- 
goat!" 

A moment or two passed before I got my eyes on 
it. We were looking down into a basin-like valley, 



The White-Goat 141 

surrounded by high mountain chains. At one end 
of the basin was a low pass, where the ridge was 
cut up with the zigzag trails made by the countless 
herds of game which had travelled it for many 
generations. At the other end was a dark gorge, 
through which a stream foamed. The floor of the 
basin was bright emerald green, dotted with 
darker bands where belts of fir trees grew ; and in 
its middle lay a little lake. 

At last I caught sight of the goat, feeding on a 
terrace rather over a hundred and twenty-five 
yards below me. I promptly fired, but overshot. 
The goat merely gave a few jumps and stopped. 
My second bullet went through its lungs, but fear- 
ful lest it might escape to some inaccessible cleft or 
ledge I fired again, missing ; and yet again, break- 
ing its back. Down it went, and the next mo- 
ment began to roll over and over, from ledge to 
ledge. I greatly feared it would break its horns ; 
an annoying and oft-recurring incident of white- 
goat shooting, where the nature of the ground is 
such that the dead quarry often falls hundreds of 
feet, its body being torn to ribbons by the sharp 
crags. However, in this case the goat speedily 
lodged unharmed in a little dwarf evergreen. 

Hardly had I fired my fourth shot when my 
companion again exclaimed : " Look at the white- 
goats ! look at the white-goats ! ' ' Glancing in the 
direction in which he pointed I speedily made out 



142 The Wilderness Hunter 

four more goats standing in a bunch rather less 
than a hundred yards off, to one side of my former 
Hne of fire. They were all looking up at me. They 
stood on a slab of white rock, with which the color 
of their fleece harmonized well; and their black 
horns, muzzles, eyes, and hoofs looked like dark 
dots on a light-colored surface, so that it took me 
more than one glance to determine what they 
were. White-goat invariably run up hill when 
alarmed, their one idea seeming to be to escape 
danger by getting above it ; for their brute foes 
are able to overmatch them on anything like level 
ground, but are helpless against them among 
the crags. Almost as soon as I saw them 
these four started up the mountain, nearly in 
my direction, while I clambered down and across 
to meet them. They halted at the foot of a 
cliff, and I at the top, being unable to see them ; 
but in another moment they came bounding 
and cantering up the sheer rocks, not moving 
quickly, but traversing the most seemingly im- 
possible places by main strength and sure-footed- 
ness. As they broke by me, some thirty yards off, 
I fired two shots at the rearmost, an old buck, 
somewhat smaller than the one I had just killed ; 
and he rolled down the mountain dead. Two of 
the others, a yearling and a kid, showed more 
alarm than their elders, and ran off at a brisk pace. 
The remaining one, an old she, went off a hundred 



The White-Goat 143 

yards, and then deliberately stopped and turned 
round to gaze at us for a couple of minutes ! Verily, 
the white-goat is the fool-hen among beasts of the 
chase. 

Having skinned and cut off the heads we walked 
rapidly onwards, slanting down the mountain-side, 
and then over and down the pass of the game 
trails ; for it was growing late, and we wished to 
get well down among the timber before nightfall. 
On the way an eagle came soaring overhead, 
and I shot at it twice without success. Having 
once killed an eagle on the wing with a rifle, I 
always have a lurking hope that sometimes I may 
be able to repeat the feat. I revenged myself for 
the miss by knocking a large blue goshawk out of 
the top of a blasted spruce, where it was sitting in 
lazy confidence, its crop stuffed with rabbit and 
grouse. 

A couple of hours' hard walking brought us 
down to timber; just before dusk we reached a 
favorable camping spot in the forest, beside a 
brook, with plenty of dead trees for the night fire. 
Moreover, the spot fortunately yielded us our sup- 
per, too, in the shape of a flock of young spruce 
grouse, of which we shot off the heads of a couple. 
Immediately afterwards I ought to have procured 
our breakfast, for a cock of the same kind sud- 
denly flew down nearby ; but it was getting dark, 
I missed with the first shot, and with the second 



144 The Wilderness Hunter 

must have merely creased the neck, for though the 
tough old bird dropped, it fluttered and ran off 
among the underbrush and escaped. 

We broiled our two grouse before our fire, 
dragged plenty of logs into a heap beside it, and 
then lay down to sleep fitfully, an hour or so at a 
time, throughout the night. We were continually 
wakened by the cold, when we had to rise and feed 
the flames. In the early morning we again 
started, walking for some time along the fresh 
trail made by a large band of elk, cows and calves. 
We thought we knew exactly the trend and outlet 
of the valley in which we were, and that therefore 
we could tell where the camp was ; but, as so often 
happens in the wilderness, we had not reckoned 
aright, having passed over one mountain spur too 
many, and entered the ravines of an entirely dif- 
ferent watercourse-system. In consequence, we 
became entangled in a network of hills and valleys, 
making circle after circle to find our bearings ; and 
we only reached camp after twelve hours' tire- 
some tramp without food. 

On another occasion I shot a white-goat while it 
was in a very curious and characteristic attitude. 
I was hunting, again with an old mountain-man 
as my sole companion, among the high mountains 
of the Kootenai country, near the border of Mon- 
tana and British Columbia. We had left our main 
camp, pitched by the brink of the river, and were 



The White-Goat 145 

struggling wearily on foot through the tangled 
forest and over the precipitous mountains, carry- 
ing on our backs light packs, consisting of a little 
food and two or three indispensable utensils, 
wrapped in our blankets. One day we came to 
the foot of a great chain of bare rocks, and climbed 
laboriously to its crest, up cliff after cliff, some of 
which were almost perpendicular. Swarming 
round certain of the rock shoulders, crossing an 
occasional sheer chasm, and in many places cling- 
ing to steep, smooth walls by but slight holds, we 
reached the top. The climbing at such a height 
was excessively fatiguing; moreover, it was in 
places difficult and even dangerous. Of course, it 
was not to be compared to the ascent of towering, 
glacier-bearing peaks, such as those of the Selkirks 
and Alaska, where climbers must be roped to one 
another and carry ice-axes. 

Once at the top we walked very cautiously, 
being careful not to show ourselves against the sky- 
line, and scanning the mountain-sides through our 
glasses. At last we made out three goats, grazing 
unconcernedly on a narrow grassy terrace, which 
sloped abruptly to the brink of a high precipice. 
They were not very far off, and there was a little 
rock spur above them which offered good cover for 
a stalk; but we had to crawl so slowly, partly to 
avoid falling, and partly to avoid detaching loose 
rocks, that it was nearly an hour before we got in 



VOL. I. — 10 



14^ The Wilderness Hunter 

a favorable position above them, and some seventy 
yards off. The frost-disintegrated mountains in 
which they Hve are always sending down showers 
of detached stones, so that the goats are not very 
sensitive to this noise; still, they sometimes pay 
instantaneous heed to it, especially if the sound is 
repeated. 

When I peeped over the little ledge of rock, 
shoving my rifle carefully ahead of me, I found 
that the goats had finished feeding and were pre- 
paring to leave the slope. The old billy saw me at 
once, but evidently could not quite make me out. 
Thereupon, gazing intently at me, he rose gravely 
on his haunches, sitting up almost in the attitude 
of a dog when begging. I know no other homed 
animal that ever takes this position. 

As I fired he rolled backwards, slipped down the 
grassy slope, and tumbled over the brink of the 
cliff, while the other two, a she and a kid, after a 
moment's panic-struck pause, and a bewildered 
rush in the wrong direction, made off up a little 
rocky gully, and were out of sight in a moment. 
To my chagrin, when I finally reached the carcass, 
after a tedious and circuitous climb to the foot of 
the cliff, I found both horns broken off. 

It was late in the afternoon, and we clambered 
down to the border of a little marshy alpine lake, 
which we reached in an hour or so. Here we 
made our camp, about sunset, in a grove of stunted 



The White-Goat 147 

spruces, which furnished plenty of dead timber 
for the fire. There were many white-goat trails 
leading to this lake, and from the slide rock round- 
about we heard the shrill whistling of hoary rock- 
woodchucks, and the querulous notes of the little 
conies — two of the sounds most familiar to the 
white-goat hunter. These conies had gathered 
heaps of dried plants, and had stowed them care- 
fully away for winter use in the cracks between the 
rocks. 

While descending the mountain we came on a 
little pack of snow grouse or mountain ptarmigan, 
birds which, save in winter, are always found 
above timber line. They were tame and fearless, 
though hard to make out as they ran among the 
rocks, cackling noisily, with their tails cocked 
aloft; and we had no difficulty in killing four, 
which gave us a good breakfast and supper. Old 
white-goats are intolerably musky in flavor, there 
being a very large musk-pod between the horn and 
ear. The kids are eatable, but of course are rarely 
killed ; the shot being usually taken at the animal 
with best horns — and the shes and young of any 
game should only be killed when there is a real 
necessity. 

These two htints may be taken as samples of 
most expeditions after white-goat. There are 
places where the goats live in mountains close to 
bodies of water, either ocean fiords or large lakes ; 



hS The Wilderness Hunter 

and in such places canoes can be used, to the 
greatly increased comfort and lessened labor of 
the hunters. In other places, where the moun- 
tains are low and the goats spend all the year in 
the timber, a pack-train can be taken right up to 
the hunting-grotmds. But generally one must go 
on foot, carrying everything on one's back, and at 
night lying out in the open or under a brush lean- 
.to; meanwhile living on spruce grouse and ptar- 
migan, with an occasional meal of trout, and in 
times of scarcity squirrels, or anything else. Such 
a trip entails severe fatigue and not a little hard- 
ship. The actual hunting, also, implies difficult 
and laborious climbing, for the goats live by choice 
among the highest and most inaccessible moun- 
tains; though where they are found, as they 
sometimes are, in comparatively low forest-clad 
ranges, I have occasionally killed them with little 
trouble by lying in wait beside the well-trodden 
game trails they make in the timber. 

In any event the hard work is to get up to the 
grounds where the game is found. Once the ani- 
mals are spied there is but little call for the craft 
of the still-hunter in approaching them. Of all 
American game the white-goat is the least wary 
and most stupid. In places where it is much 
hunted it of course gradually grows wilder and 
becomes difficult to approach and kill ; and much 
of its silly tameness is doubtless due to the in- 



The White-Goat 149 

accessible nature of its haunts, which renders it 
ordinarily free from molestation; but aside from 
this it certainly seems as if it was naturally less 
wary than either deer or mountain sheep. The 
great point is to get above it. All its foes live in 
the valleys, and while it is in the mountains, if 
they strive to approach it at all, they must do so 
from below. It is in consequence always on the 
watch for danger from beneath; but it is easily 
approached from above, and then, as it generally 
tries to escape by running up hill, the hunter is 
very apt to get a shot. 

Its chase is thus laborious rather than exciting ; 
and to my mind it is less attractive than is the 
pursuit of most of our other game. Yet it has an 
attraction of its own after all ; while the grandeur 
of the scenery amid which it must be carried on, 
the freedom and hardihood of the life and the 
pleasure of watching the queer habits of the game, 
all combine to add to the hunter's enjoyment. 

White-goats are self-confident, pugnacious be- 
ings. An old billy, if he discovers the presence of 
a foe without being quite sure what it is, often re- 
fuses to take flight, but walks around, stamping, 
and shaking his head. The needle-pointed black 
horns are alike in both sexes, save that the males' 
are a trifle thicker; and they are most effective 
weapons when wielded by the muscular neck of a 
resolute and wicked old goat. They wound like 



150 The Wilderness Hunter 

stilettos, and their bearer is in consequence a 
much more formidable foe in a hand-to-hand 
struggle than either a branching-antlered deer or 
a mountain ram, with his great battering head. 
The goat does not butt; he thrusts. If he can 
cover his back by a tree trunk or boulder he can 
stand off most carnivorous animals, no larger than 
he is. 

Though awkward in movement, and lacking all 
semblance of lightness or agility, goats are excel- 
lent climbers. One of their queer traits is their 
way of getting their fore hoofs on a slight ledge, 
and then drawing or lifting their bodies up by 
simple muscular exertion, stretching out their 
elbows, much as a man would. They do a good 
deal of their climbing by strength and command 
over their muscles ; although they are also capable 
of making astonishing bounds. If a cliff surface 
has the least slope, and shows any inequalities or 
roughness whatever, goats can go up and down it 
with ease. With their short, stout legs, and large, 
sharp-edged hoofs they clamber well over ice, 
passing and repassing the mountains at a time 
when no man would so much as crawl over them. 
They bear extreme cold with indifference, but are 
intolerant of much heat ; even when the weather is 
cool they are apt to take their noontide rest in 
caves; I have seen them solemnly retiring, for 
this purpose, to great rents in the rocks at a time 



The White-Goat 151 

when my own teeth chattered because of the icy 
wind. 

They go in small flocks; sometimes in pairs 
or little family parties. After the rut the bucks 
often herd by themselves, or go off alone, while 
the young and the shes keep together throughout 
the winter and the spring. The young are gen- 
erally brought forth above timber line, or at its 
uppermost edge, save, of course, in those places 
where the goats live among mountains wooded to 
the top. Throughout the summer they graze on 
the short mountain plants which in many places 
form regular mats above timber line; the deep 
winter snows drive them low down in the wooded 
valleys, and force them to subsist by browsing. 
They are so strong that they plough their way 
readily through deep drifts; and a flock of goats 
at this season, when their white coat is very long 
and thick, if seen waddling off through the snow, 
have a comical likeness to so many diminutive 
polar bears. Of course they could easily be run 
down in the snow by a man on snow-shoes, in the 
plain; but on a mountain-side there are always 
bare rocks and cliff shoulders, glassy with winter 
ice, which give either goats or sheep an advantage 
over their snowshoe-bearing foes that deer and 
elk lack. Whenever the goats pass the winter in 
woodland they leave plenty of sign in the shape of 
patches of wool clinging to all the sharp twigs and 



152 The Wilderness Hunter 

branches against which they have brushed. In 
the spring they often form the habit of drinking at 
certain low pools, to which they beat deep paths ; 
and at this season, and to a less extent in the sum- 
mer and fall, they are very fond of frequenting 
mineral licks. At any such lick the ground is 
tramped bare of vegetation, and is filled with pits 
and hollows, actually dug by the tongues of in- 
numerable generations of animals ; while the game 
paths lead from them in a dozen directions. 

In spite of the white-goat's pugnacity, its clum- 
siness renders it no very difficult prey when taken 
unawares by either wolf or cougar, its two chief 
enemies. They cannot often catch it when it is 
above timber line; but it is always in sore peril 
from them when it ventures into the forest. Bears, 
also, prey upon it in the early spring; and one 
midwinter my friend Willis found a wolverine eat- 
ing a goat which it had killed in a snowdrift at the 
foot of a cliff. The savage little beast growled 
and showed fight when he came near the body. 
Eagles are great enemies of the young kids, as they 
are of the young lambs of the bighorns. 

The white-goat is the only game beast of Amer- 
ica which has not decreased in numbers since the 
arrival of the white man. Although in certain 
localities it is now decreasing, yet, taken as a 
whole, it is probably quite as plentiful now as it 
was fifty years back ; for in the early part of the 



The White-Goat 153 

present century there were Indian tribes who 
hunted it perseveringly to make the skins into 
robes, whereas now they get blankets from the 
traders and no longer persecute the goats. The 
early trappers and mountain-men knew but little 
of the animal. Whether they were after beaver, 
or were hunting big game, or were merely ex- 
ploring, they kept to the valleys ; there was no in- 
ducement for them to climb to the tops of the 
mountains; so it resulted that there was no ani- 
mal with which the old hunters were so un- 
familiar as with the white-goat. The professional 
hunters of to-day likewise bother it but little; 
they do not care to undergo severe toil for an ani- 
mal with worthless flesh and a hide of little value — 
for it is only in the late fall and winter that the 
long hair and fine wool give the robe any beauty. 

So the quaint, sturdy, musky beasts, with their 
queer and awkward ways, their boldness and their 
stupidity, with their white coats and big black 
hoofs, black muzzles, and sharp, gently-curved, 
span-long black horns, have held their own well 
among the high mountains that they love. In the 
Rockies and the Coast ranges they abound from 
Alaska south to Montana, Idaho, and Washington ; 
and here and there isolated colonies are found 
among the high mountains to the southward, in 
Wyoming, Colorado, even in New Mexico, and, 
strangest of all, in one or two spots among the 



154 The Wilderness Hunter 

barren coast raountains of southern California. 
Long after the elk has followed the buffalo to the 
happy hunting-grounds the white-goat will flourish 
among the towering and glacier-riven peaks, and, 
grown wary with succeeding generations, will fur- 
nish splendid sport to those hunters who are both 
good riflemen and hardy cragsmen. 



CHAPTER VIII 

HUNTING IN THE SELKIRKS ; THE CARIBOU 

IN September, 1888, I was camped on the shores 
of Kootenai Lake, having with me, as com- 
panions, John WilHs and an impassive-look- 
ing Indian named Ammal. Coming across through 
the dense coniferous forests of northern Idaho we 
had struck the Kootenai River. Then we went 
down with the current as it wound in half circles 
through a long alluvial valley of mixed marsh and 
woodland, hemmed in by lofty mountains. The 
lake itself, when we reached it, stretched straight 
away like a great fiord, a hundred miles long and 
about three in breadth. The frowning and rugged 
Selkirks came down sheer to the water's edge. So 
straight were the rock walls that it was difficult 
for us to land with our batteau, save at the places 
where the rapid mountain torrents entered the 
lake. As these streams of swift water broke from 
their narrow gorges they made little deltas of level 
ground, with beaches of fine white sand ; and the 
stream banks were edged with cottonwood and 
poplar, their shimmering foliage relieving the 
sombre coloring of the evergreen forest. 

155 



15^ The Wilderness Hunter 

Close to such a brook, from which we drew 
strings of large silver trout, our tent was pitched, 
just within the forest. From between the trunks 
of two gnarled, wind-beaten trees, a pine and a Cot- 
tonwood, we looked out across the lake. The little 
bay in our front, in which we bathed and swam, 
was sometimes glassily calm; and again heavy 
wind-squalls arose, and the surf beat strongly 
on the beach where our boat was drawn up. Now 
and then great checker-back loons drifted buoy- 
antly by, stopping with bold curiosity to peer at 
the white tent gleaming between the tree-trunks, 
and at the smoke curling above their tops; and 
they called to one another, both at dawn and in 
the daytime, with shrieks of unearthly laughter. 
Troops of noisy, parti-colored Clarke crows circled 
over the tree-tops or hung from among the pine 
cones ; jays and chickadees came round camp, and 
woodpeckers hammered lustily in the dead timber. 
Two or three times parties of Indians passed down 
the lake, in strangely shaped bark canoes, with 
peaked, projecting prows and sterns ; craft utterly 
unlike the graceful, feather-floating birches so be- 
loved by both the red and the white woodsmen of 
the northeast. Once a couple of white men, in a 
dug-out or pirogue made out of a cottonwood log, 
stopped to get lunch. They were mining pros- 
pectors, French-Canadians by birth, but beaten 
into the usual frontier-mining stamp ; doomed to 



Hunting in the Selkirks 157 

wander their lives long, ever hoping, in the quest 
for metal wealth. 

With these exceptions there was nothing to 
break the silent loneliness of the great lake. 
Shrouded as we were in the dense forest, and at 
the foot of the first steep hills, we could see nothing 
of the country on the side where we were camped ; 
but across the water the immense mountain masses 
stretched away from our vision, range upon range, 
until they turned to a glittering throng of ice- 
peaks and snow-fields, the feeding beds of glaciers. 
Between the lake and the snow range were chains 
of gray rock-peaks, and the mountain-sides and 
valleys were covered by the primeval forest. The 
woods were on fire across the lake from our camp, 
burning steadily. At night the scene was very 
grand, as the fire worked slowly across the moun- 
tain-sides in immense zigzags of quivering red; 
while at times isolated pines of unusual size kin- 
dled, and flamed for hours, like the torches of a 
giant. Finally the smoke grew so thick as to 
screen from our view the grand landscape op- 
posite. 

We had come down from a week's fruitless hunt- 
ing in the mountains ; a week of excessive toil, in 
a country where we saw no game — for in our ig- 
norance we had wasted time, not going straight 
back to the high ranges, from which the game had 
not yet descended. After three or four days of 



158 The Wilderness Hunter 

rest, and of feasting on trout — a welcome relief to 
the monotony of frying-pan bread and coarse 
salt pork — we were ready for another trial; and 
early one morning we made the start. Having to 
pack everything for a fortnight's use on our backs, 
through an excessively rough country, we, of 
course, travelled as light as possible, leaving al- 
most all we had with the tent and boat. Each 
took his own blanket ; and among us we carried a 
frying-pan, a teapot, flour, pork, salt, tea, and 
matches. I also took a jacket, a spare pair of 
socks, some handkerchiefs, and my washing kit. 
Fifty cartridges in my belt completed my outfit. 

We walked in single file, as is necessary in thick 
woods. The white hunter led and I followed, 
each with rifle on shoulder and pack on back. 
Ammdl, the Indian, pigeon-toed along behind, 
carrying his pack, not as we did ours, but by help 
of a forehead- band, which he sometimes shifted 
across his breast. The travelling through the 
tangled, brush-choked forest, and along the boul- 
der-strewn and precipitous mountain-sides, was 
inconceivably rough and difficult. In places we 
followed the valley, and when this became im- 
possible we struck across the spurs. Every step 
was severe toil. Now we walked through deep 
moss and rotting mould, every few feet clamber- 
ing over huge trunks ; again we pushed through a 
stiff jungle of bushes and tall, prickly plants — 



Hunting in the Selkirks 159 

called "devil's clubs," — which stung our hands 
and faces. Up the almost perpendicular hill- 
sides we in many places went practically on all 
fours, forcing our way over the rocks and through 
the dense thickets of laurels or young spruce. 
Where there were windfalls or great stretches of 
burnt forest, black and barren wastes, we balanced 
and leaped from log to log, sometimes twenty or 
thirty feet above the ground; and when such a 
stretch was on a steep hillside, and especially if 
the logs were enveloped in a thick second growth 
of small evergreens, the footing was very insecure 
and the danger from a fall considerable. Our 
packs added greatly to our labor, catching on the 
snags and stubs; and where a grove of thick- 
growing young spruces or balsams had been 
burned, the stiff and brittle twigs pricked like so 
much coral. Most difficult of all were the dry 
watercourses, choked with alders, where the in- 
tertwined tangle of tough stems formed an almost 
literally impenetrable barrier to our progress. 
Nearly every movement — leaping, climbing, swing- 
ing one's self up with one's hands, bursting 
through stiff bushes, plunging into and out of 
bogs — was one of strain and exertion ; the fatigue 
was tremendous and steadily continued, so that 
in an hour every particle of clothing I had on was 
wringing wet with sweat. 

At noon we halted beside a little brook for a bite 



i6o The Wilderness Hunter 

of lunch — a chunk of cold frying-pan bread, which 
was all we had. 

While at lunch I made a capture. I was sitting 
on a great stone by the edge of the brook, idly 
gazing at a water- wren which had come up from a 
short flight — I can call it nothing else — under- 
neath the water, and was singing sweetly from a 
spray-splashed log. Suddenly a small animal 
swam across the little pool at my feet. It was less 
in size than a mouse, and as it paddled rapidly 
underneath the water its body seemed flattened 
like a disc, and was spangled with tiny bubbles, 
like specks of silver. It was a water-shrew, a rare 
little beast. I sat motionless and watched both 
the shrew and the water- wren — water-ousel, as it 
should rightly be named. The latter, emboldened 
by my quiet, presently flew by me to a little rapids 
close at hand, lighting on a round stone, and then 
slipping unconcernedly into the swift water. Anon 
he emerged, stood on another stone, and trilled a 
few bars, though it was late in the season for sing- 
ing; and then dove again into the stream. I 
gazed at him eagerly; for this strange, pretty 
water-thrush is to me one of the most attractive 
and interesting birds to be found in the gorges of 
the great Rockies. Its haunts are romantically 
beautiful, for it always dwells beside and in the 
swift-flowing mountain brooks ; it has a singularly 
sweet song ; and its ways render it a marked bird 



Hunting in the Selkirks i6i 

at once, for though looking much like a sober- 
colored, ordinary woodland thrush, it spends half 
its time under the water, walking along the bot- 
tom, swimming and diving, and flitting through 
as well as over the cataracts. 

In a minute or two the shrew caught my eye 
again. It got into a little shallow eddy and 
caught a minute fish, which it carried to a half- 
sunken stone and greedily devoured, tugging 
voraciously at it as it held it down with its paws. 
Then its evil genius drove it into a small puddle 
alongside the brook, where I instantly pounced on 
and slew it ; for I knew a friend in the Smithsonian 
at Washington who would have coveted it greatly. 
It was a soft, pretty creature, dark above, snow- 
white below, with a very long tail. I turned the 
skin inside out and put a bent twig in, that it 
might dry ; while Ammal, who had been intensely 
interested in the chase and capture, meditatively 
shook his head and said " wagh," unable to fathom 
the white man's medicine. However, my labor 
came to nought, for that evening I laid the skin 
out on a log, Ammal threw the log into the fire, 
and that was the end of the shrew. 

When this interlude was over we resumed our 
march, toiling silently onwards through the wild 
and rugged country. Towards evening the valley 
widened a little, and we were able to walk in the 
bottoms, which much lightened our labor. The 



VOL. I. — II. 



i62 The Wilderness Hunter 

hunter, for greater ease, had tied the thongs of 
his heavy pack across his breast, so that he could 
not use his rifle ; but my pack was lighter, and I 
carried it in a manner that would not interfere 
with my shooting, lest we should come unawares 
on game. 

It was well that I did so. An hour or two be- 
fore sunset we were travelling, as usual, in Indian 
file, beside the stream, through an open wood of 
great hemlock trees. There was no breeze, and 
we made no sound as we marched, for our feet 
sunk noiselessly into the deep sponge of moss, 
while the incessant dashing of the torrent, churn- 
ing among the stones, would have drowned a far 
louder advance. 

Suddenly the hunter, who was leading, dropped 
down in his tracks, pointing forward; and some 
fifty feet beyond I saw the head and shoulders of 
a bear as he rose to make a sweep at some berries. 
He was in a hollow where a tall, rank, prickly 
plant, with broad leaves, grew luxuriantly; and 
he was gathering its red berries, rising on his hind 
legs and sweeping them down into his mouth with 
his paw, and was much too intent on his work to 
notice us, for his head was pointed the other way. 
The moment he rose again I fired, meaning to 
shoot through the shoulders, but instead, in the 
hurry, taking him in the neck. Down he went, 
but whether hurt or not we could not see, for the 



Hunting in the Selkirks 163 

second he was on all fours lie was no longer visible. 
Rather to my surprise he uttered no sound — for 
bear when hit or when charging often make a great 
noise — so I raced forward to the edge of the hollow, 
the hunter close behind me, while Ammal danced 
about in the rear, very much excited, as Indians 
always are in the presence of big game. The in- 
stant we reached the hollow and looked down into 
it from the low bank on which we stood we saw by 
the swaying of the tall plants that the bear was 
coming our way. The hunter was standing some 
ten feet distant, a hemlock trunk being between 
us; and the next moment the bear sprang clean 
up the bank the other side of the hemlock, and 
almost within arm's length of my companion. I 
do not think he had intended to charge; he was 
probably confused by the bullet through his neck, 
and had by chance blundered out of the hollow in 
our direction; but when he saw the hunter so 
close he turned for him, his hair bristling and his 
teeth showing. The man had no cartridge in his 
weapon, and with his pack on could not have 
used it anyhow ; and for a moment it looked as if 
he stood a fair chance of being hurt, though it is 
not likely that the bear would have done more 
than knock him down with his powerful fore paw, 
or perchance give him a single bite in passing. 
However, as the beast sprang out of the hollow 
he poised for a second on the edge of the bank to 



1 64 The Wilderness Hunter 

recover his balance, giving me a beautiful shot, as 
he stood sideways to me; the bullet struck be- 
tween the eye and ear, and he fell as if hit with a 
pole-axe. 

Immediately the Indian began jumping about 
the body, uttering wild yells, his usually impas- 
sive face lit up with excitement, while the hunter 
and I stood at rest, leaning on our rifles, and 
laughing. It was a strange scene, the dead bear 
lying in the shade of the giant hemlocks, while 
the fantastic-looking savage danced round him 
with shrill whoops, and the tall frontiersman 
looked qtiietly on. 

Our prize was a large black bear, with two curi- 
ous brown streaks down his back, one on each side 
the spine. We skinned him and camped by the 
carcass, as it was growing late. To take the chill 
oif the evening air we built a huge fire, the logs 
roaring and crackling. To one side of it we made 
our beds — of balsam and hemlock boughs; we 
did not build a brush lean-to, because the night 
seemed likely to be clear. Then we supped on 
sugarless tea, frying-pan bread, and quantities of 
bear meat, fried or roasted — and how very good 
it tasted only those know who have gone through 
much hardship and some little hunger, and have 
worked violently for several days without flesh 
food. After eating our fill we stretched ourselves 
around the fire ; the leaping sheets of flame lit the 



The Caribou 165 

tree-trunks round about, causing them to start 
out against the cavernous blackness beyond, and 
reddened the interlacing branches that formed a 
canopy overhead. The Indian sat on his haunches 
gazing steadily and silently into the pile of blazing 
logs, while the white hunter and I talked together. 

The morning after killing Bruin, we again took 
up our march, heading up stream, that we might 
go to its sources amidst the mountains, where the 
snow-fields fed its springs. It was two full days' 
journey thither, but we took much longer to make 
it, as we kept halting to hunt the adjoining moun- 
tains. On such occasions Ammal was left as camp 
guard, while the white hunter and I would start 
by daybreak and return at dark utterly worn out 
by the excessive fatigue. We knew nothing of 
caribou, nor where to hunt for them; and we had 
been told that thus early in the season they were 
above tree limit on the mountain-sides. Accord- 
ingly we would climb up to the limits of the for- 
ests, but never found a caribou trail ; and once or 
twice we went on to the summits of the crag-peaks, 
and across the deep snow-fields in the passes. 
There were plenty of white-goats, however, their 
trails being broad paths, especially at one spot 
where they led down to a lick in the valley ; round 
the lick, for a space of many yards, the ground 
was trampled as if in a sheepfold. 

The moimtains were very steep, and the climbing 



i66 The Wilderness Hunter 

was in places dangerous, when we were above 
the timber and had to make our way along the 
jagged knife-crests and across the faces of the 
cliffs ; while our hearts beat as if about to burst in 
the high, thin air. In walking over rough but not 
dangerous ground — across slides or in thick tim- 
ber — my companion was far more skilful than I 
was; but rather to my surprise I proved to be 
nearly as good as he when we came to the really 
dangerous places, where we had to go slowly, and 
let one another down from ledge to ledge, or crawl 
by narrow cracks across the rock walls. 

The view from the summits was magnificent, 
and I never tired of gazing at it. Sometimes the 
sky was a dome of blue crystal, and mountain, 
lake, and valley lay spread in startling clearness 
at our very feet ; and again snow-peak and rock- 
peak were thrust up like islands through a sea of 
billowy clouds. At the feet of the topmost peaks, 
just above the edge of the forest, were marshy al- 
pine valleys, the boggy ground soaked with water, 
and small bushes or stunted trees fringing the icy 
lakes. In the stony mountain-sides surrounding 
these lakes there were hoary woodchucks, and 
conies. The former resembled in their habits the 
alpine marmot, rather than our own common east- 
em woodchuck. They lived alone or in couples 
among the rocks, their gray color often making 
them difficult to see as they crouched at the 



The Caribou 167 

mouths of their burrows, or sat bolt upright ; and 
as an alarm note they uttered a loud piercing 
whistle, a strong contrast to the querulous, plain- 
tive *'p-a-a-y" of the timid conies. These like- 
wise loved to dwell where the stones and slabs of 
rock were heaped on one another ; though so timid, 
they were not nearly as wary as the woodchucks. 
If we stood quite still the little brown creatures 
would venture away from their holes and hop 
softly over the rocks as if we were not present. 

The white-goats were too musky to eat, and we 
saw nothing else to shoot ; so we speedily became 
reduced to tea, and to bread baked in the frying- 
pan, save every now and then for a feast on 
the luscious mountain blueberries. This rather 
meagre diet, coupled with incessant fatigue and 
exertion, made us fairly long for meat food; and 
we fell off in flesh, though of course in so short a 
time we did not suffer in either health or strength. 
Fortunately, the nights were too cool for mos- 
quitoes ; but once or twice in the afternoons, while 
descending the lower slopes of the mountains, we 
were much bothered by swarms of gnats; they 
worried us greatly, usually attacking us at a time 
when we had to go fast in order to reach camp be- 
fore dark, while the roughness of the ground 
forced us to use both hands in climbing, and thus 
forbade us to shield our faces from^ our tiny tor- 
mentors. Our chief luxury was, at the end of the 



i68 The Wilderness Hunter 

day, when footsore and weary, to cast aside our 
sweat-drenched clothes and plunge into the icy 
mountain torrent for a moment's bath that fresh- 
ened us as if by magic. The nights were generally 
pleasant, and we slept soundly on our beds of 
balsam boughs, but once or twice there were 
sharp frosts, and it was so cold that the hunter and 
I huddled together for warmth, and kept the fires 
going till morning. One day, when we were on 
the march, it rained heavily, and we were soaked 
through and stiff and chilly when we pitched 
camp ; but we speedily built a great brush lean-to, 
made a roaring fire in front, and grew once more 
to warmth and comfort as we sat under our steam- 
ing shelter. The only discomfort we really minded 
was an occasional night in wet blankets. 

In the evening the Indian and the white hunter 
played interminable games of seven-up with a 
greasy pack of cards. In the course of his varied 
life the hunter had been a professional gambler; 
and he could have easily won all the Indian's 
money, the more speedily inasmuch as the un- 
tutored red man was always attempting to cheat, 
and was thus giving his far more skilful opponent 
a certain right to try some similar deviltry in re- 
turn. However, it was distinctly understood that 
there should be no gambling, for I did not wish 
Ammal to lose all his wages while in my employ ; 
and the white man stood loyally by his agreement. 



The Caribou 169 

Ammdl's people, just before I engaged him, had 
been visited by their brethren, the Upper Koote- 
nais, and in a series of gambhng matches had lost 
about all their belongings. 

Ammal himself was one of the Lower Kootenais ; 
I had hired him for the trip, as the Indians west of 
the Rockies, unlike their kinsmen of the plains, 
often prove hard and willing workers. His know- 
ledge of English was almost nil; and our very- 
scanty conversation was carried on in the Chinook 
jargon, universally employed between the moun- 
tains and the Pacific. Apparently, he had three 
names: for he assured us that his '' Boston" (i. e., 
American) name was Ammal; his ''Siwash" {i. e., 
Indian) name was Appak; and that the priest 
called him Abel — for the Lower Kootenais are 
nominally Catholics. Whatever his name he was 
a good Indian, as Indians go. I often tried to 
talk with him about game and hunting, but we 
understood each other too little to exchange more 
than the most rudimentary ideas. His face bright- 
ened one night when I happened to tell him of my 
baby boys at home ; he must have been an affec- 
tionate father in his way, this dark Ammal, for he 
at once proceeded to tell me about his own pa- 
poose, who had also seen one snow, and to de- 
scribe how the little fellow was old enough to take 
one step and then fall down. But he never dis- 
played so much vivacity as on one occasion when 



I70 The Wilderness Hunter 

the white hunter happened to relate to him a 
rather gruesome feat of one of their mutual ac- 
quaintances, an Upper Kootenai Indian named 
Three Coyotes. The latter was a quarrelsome, ad- 
venturous Indian, with whom the hunter had once 
had a difficulty — *' I had to beat the cuss over the 
head with my gun a little," he remarked, paren- 
thetically. His last feat had been done in connec- 
tion with a number of Chinamen, who had been 
working among some placer mines, where the In- 
dians came to visit them. Now the astute Chinese 
are as fond of gambling as any of the borderers, 
white or red, and are very successful, generally 
fleecing the Indians unmercifully. Three Coyotes 
lost all he possessed to one of the pig-tailed gentry ; 
but he apparently took his losses philosophically, 
and pleasantly followed the victor round, until the 
latter had won all the cash and goods of several 
other Indians. Then he suddenly fell on the exile 
from the Celestial Empire, slew him, and took all 
his plunder, retiring unmolested, as it did not 
seem any one's business to avenge a mere China- 
man. Ammal was immensely interested in the 
tale, and kept recurring to it again and again, 
taking two little sticks and making the hunter act 
out the whole story. The Kootenais were then 
only just beginning to consider the Chinese as 
human. They knew they must not kill white 
people, and they had their own code of morality 



The Caribou 171 

among themselves; but when the Chinese first 
appeared they evidently thought that there could 
not be any especial objection to killing them, if 
any reason arose for doing so. I think the hunter 
himself sympathized somewhat with this view. 

Ammal objected strongly to leaving the neigh- 
borhood of the lake. He went the first day's 
journey willingly enough, but after that it was in- 
creasingly difficult to get him along, and he gradu- 
ally grew sulky. For some time we could not find 
out the reason; but finally he gave us to under- 
stand that he was afraid because up in the high 
mountains there were "little bad Indians" who 
would kill him if they caught him alone, especially 
at night. At first we thought he was speaking of 
stray warriors of the Blackfeet tribe ; but it turned 
out that he was not thinking of human beings at 
all, but of hobgoblins. 

Indeed the night sounds of these great stretches 
of mountain woodland were very weird and 
strange. Though I have often and for long periods 
dwelt and hunted in the wilderness, yet I never 
before so well understood why the people who live 
in lonely forest regions are prone to believe in 
elves, wood spirits, and other beings of an unseen 
world. Our last camp, whereat we spent several 
days, was pitched in a deep valley nearly at the 
head of the stream. Our brush shelter stood 
among the tall coniferous trees that covered the 



172 The Wilderness Hunter 

valley bottom ; but the altitude was so great that 
the forest extended only a very short distance up 
the steep mountain slopes. Beyond, on either 
hand, rose walls of gray rock, with snow-beds in 
their rifts, and, high above, toward the snow-peaks, 
the great white fields dazzled the eyes. The tor- 
rent foamed swiftly by but a short distance be- 
low the mossy level space on which we had built 
our slight weather-shield of pine boughs ; other 
streams poured into it, from ravines through which 
they leaped down the mountain-sides. 

After nightfall, round the camp-fire, or if I 
awakened after sleeping a little while, I would 
often lie silently for many minutes together, lis- 
tening to the noises of the wilderness. At times 
the wind moaned harshly through the tops of the 
tall pines and hemlocks; at times the branches 
were still; but the splashing murmur of the tor- 
rent never ceased, and through it came other 
sounds — the clatter of huge rocks falling down the 
cliffs, the dashing of cataracts in far-off ravines, 
the hooting of owls. Again, the breeze would 
shift, and bring to my ears the ringing of other 
brooks and cataracts and wind-stirred forests, and 
perhaps at long intervals the cry of some wild 
beast, the crashing of a falling tree, or the faint 
rumble of a snow avalanche. If I listened long 
enough, it would almost seem that I heard thun- 
derous voices laughing and calling to one another, 



The Caribou 173 

and as if at any moment some shape might stalk 
out of the darkness into the dim Hght of the 
embers. 

Until within a couple of days of turning our 
faces back towards the lake we did not come 
across any caribou, and saw but a few old signs; 
and we began to be fearful lest we should have to 
return without getting any, for our shoes had been 
cut to ribbons by the sharp rocks, we were almost 
out of flour, and therefore had but little to eat. 
However, our perseverance was destined to be 
rewarded. 

The first day after reaching our final camp, we 
hunted across a set of spurs and hollows, but saw 
nothing living ; yet we came across several bear- 
tracks, and in a deep, mossy quagmire, by a spring, 
found where a huge silver-tip had wallowed only 
the night before. 

Next day we started early, determined to take a 
long walk and follow the main stream up to its 
head, or at least above timber line. The hunter 
struck so brisk a pace, plunging through thickets 
and leaping from log to log in the slashes of fallen 
timber, and from boulder to boulder in crossing 
the rock-slides, that I could hardly keep up to him, 
struggle as I would, and we each of us got several 
ugly tumbles, saving our rifles at the expense of 
scraped hands and bruised bodies. We went up 
one side of the stream, intending to come down 



174 The Wilderness Hunter 

the other; for the forest belt was narrow enough 
to hunt thoroughly. For two or three hours we 
toiled through dense growth, varied by rock- 
slides, and once or twice by marshy tracts, where 
water oozed and soaked through the mossy hill- 
sides, studded rather sparsely with evergreens. 
In one of these places we caught a glimpse of 
an animal which the track showed to be a wol- 
verine. 

Then we came to a spur of open hemlock forest ; 
and no sooner had we entered it than the hunter 
stopped and pointed exultingly to a well-marked 
game trail, in which it was easy at a glance to dis- 
cern the great round footprints of our quarry. We 
hunted carefully over the spur and found several 
trails, generally leading down along the ridge ; we 
also found a number of beds, some old and some 
recent, usually placed where the animal could 
keep a lookout for any foe coming up from the 
valley. They were merely slight hollows or in- 
dentations in the pine-needles ; and, like the game 
trails, were placed in localities similar to those 
that would be chosen by blacktail deer. The 
caribou droppings were also very plentiful; and 
there were signs of where they had browsed on the 
blueberry bushes, cropping off the berries, and 
also apparently of where they had here and there 
plucked a mouthful of a peculiar kind of moss, or 
cropped off some little mushrooms. But the 



The Caribou 175 

beasts themselves had evidently left the hemlock 
ridge, and we went on. 

We were much pleased at finding the sign in 
open timber, where the ground was excellent for 
still-hunting; for in such thick forest as we had 
passed through, it would have been by mere luck 
only that we could have approached game. 

After a little while the valley became so high 
that the large timber ceased, and there were only 
occasional groves of spindling evergreens. Be- 
yond the edge of the big timber was a large boggy 
tract, studded with little pools ; and here again we 
found plenty of caribou tracks. A caribou has 
an enormous foot, bigger than a cow's, and ad- 
mirably adapted for travelling over snow or bogs ; 
hence they can pass through places where the long 
slender hoofs of moose or deer, or the rounded 
hoofs of elk, would let their owners sink at once ; 
and they are very difficult to kill by following on 
snow-shoes — a method much in vogue among the 
brutal game butchers for slaughtering the more 
helpless animals. Spreading out his great hoofs, 
and bending his legs till he walks almost on the 
joints, a caribou will travel swiftly over a crust 
through which a moose breaks at every stride, or 
through deep snow in which a deer cannot flounder 
fifty yards. Usually he trots ; but when pressed 
he will spring awkwardly along, leaving tracks in 
the snow almost exactly like magnified imprints of 



17^ The Wilderness Hunter 

those of a great rabbit, the long marks of the two 
hind legs forming an angle with each other, while 
the fore feet make a large point almost between. 

The caribou had wandered all over the bogs and 
through the shallow pools, but evidently only at 
night or in the dusk, when feeding or in coming to 
drink; and we again went on. Soon the timber 
disappeared almost entirely, and thick brushwood 
took its place ; we were in a high, bare alpine val- 
ley, the snow lying in drifts along the sides. In 
places there had been enormous rock-slides, en- 
tirely filling up the bottom, so that for a quarter 
of a mile at a stretch the stream ran underground. 
In the rock masses of this alpine valley we, as 
usual, saw many conies and hoary woodchucks. 

The caribou trails had ceased, and it was evi- 
dent that the beasts were not ahead of us in the 
barren, treeless recesses between the mountains 
of rock and snow ; and we turned back down the 
valley, crossing over to the opposite or south side 
of the stream. We had already eaten our scanty 
lunch, for it was afternoon. For several miles of 
hard walking, through thicket, marsh, and rock- 
slide, we saw no traces of the game. Then we 
reached the forest, which soon widened out, and 
crept up the mountain- sides ; and we came to 
where another stream entered the one we were 
following. A high, steep shoulder between the 
two valleys was covered with an open growth of 



The Caribou 177 

great hemlock timber, and in this we again found 
the trails and beds plentiful. There was no 
breeze, and after beating through the forest nearly 
to its upper edge, we began to go down the ridge, 
or point of the shoulder. The comparative free- 
dom from brushwood made it easy to walk with- 
out noise, and we descended the steep incline with 
the utmost care, scanning every object, and using 
every caution not to slip on the hemlock needles 
nor to strike a stone or break a stick with our feet. 
The sign was very fresh, and when still half a mile 
or so from the bottom we at last came on three 
bull caribou. 

Instantly the hunter crouched down, while I 
ran noiselessly forward behind the. shelter of a big 
hemlock trunk until within fifty yards of the graz- 
ing and unconscious quarry. They were feeding 
with their heads up hill, but so greedily that they 
had not seen us ; and they were rather difficult to 
see themselves, for their bodies harmonized well in 
color with the brown tree-trunks and lichen-cov- 
ered boulders. The largest, a big bull with a good 
but by no means extraordinary head, was nearest. 
As he stood fronting me with his head down I fired 
into his neck, breaking the bone, and he turned 
a tremendous back somersault. The other two 
halted a second in stunned terror; then one, a 
yearling, rushed past us up the valley down which 
we had come, while the other, a large bull with 



VOL. I. — 12. 



178 The Wilderness Hunter 

small antlers, crossed right in front of me, at a 
canter, his neck thrust out, and his head — so 
coarse-looking compared to the delicate outlines 
of an elk's — turned towards me. His movements 
seemed clumsy and awkward, utterly unlike those 
of a deer; but he handled his great hoofs cleverly 
enough, and broke into a headlong, rattling gallop 
as he went down the hillside, crashing through the 
saplings and leaping over the fallen logs. There 
was a spur a little beyond, and up this he went at 
a swinging trot, halting when he reached the top, 
and turning to look at me once more. He was 
only a hundred yards away ; and though I had not 
intended to shoot him (for his head was not good) , 
the temptation was sore ; and I was glad when, in 
another second, the stupid beast turned again and 
went off up the valley at a slashing run. 

Then we hurried down to examine with pride 
and pleasure the dead bull — his massive form, 
sleek coat, and fine antlers. It was one of those 
moments that repay the hunter for days of toil and 
hardship ; that is, if he needs repayment, and does 
not find life in the wilderness pleasure enough in 
itself. 

It was getting late, and if we expected to reach 
camp that night it behooved us not to delay; so 
we merely halted long enough to dress the caribou, 
and take a steak with us — which we did not need, 
by the way, for almost immediately we came on a 



The Caribou 179 

band of spruce grouse, and knocked off the heads 
of five with our rifles. The caribou's stomach was 
filled with blueberries, and with their leaves, and 
with a few small mushrooms also, and some 
mouthfuls of moss. We went home very fast, too 
much elated to heed scratches and tumbles ; and 
just as it was growing so dark that further travel- 
ling was impossible we came opposite our camp, 
crossed the river on a fallen hemlock, and walked 
up to the moody Indian, as he sat crouched by 
the fire. 

He lost his sullenness when he heard what we 
had done; and next day we all went up and 
skinned and butchered the caribou, returning to 
camp and making ready to start back to the lake 
the following morning ; and that night we feasted 
royally. 

We were off by dawn, the Indian joyfully lead- 
ing. Coming up into the mountains he had always 
been the rear man of the file ; but now he went first 
and struck a pace that, continued all day long, gave 
me a little trouble to follow. Each of us carried his 
pack ; to the Indian's share fell the caribou skull 
and antlers, which he bore on his head. At the 
end of the day he confessed to me that it had made 
his head *' heap sick" — as well it might. We had 
made four short days', or parts of days', march 
coming up; for we had stopped to hunt, and 
moreover we knew nothing of the country, 



i8o The Wilderness Hunter 

being probably the first white men in it, while 
none of the Indians had ever ventured a long dis- 
tance from the lake. Returning, we knew how to 
take the shortest route, we were going down hill, 
and we walked or trotted very fast; and so we 
made the whole distance in twelve hours' travel. 
At sunset we came out on the last range of steep 
foothills, overlooking the cove where we had 
pitched our permanent camp; and from a bare 
cliff shoulder we saw our boat on the beach, and 
our white tent among the trees, just as we had left 
them, while the glassy mirror of the lake reflected 
the outlines of the mountains opposite. 

Though this was the first caribou I had ever 
killed, it was by no means the first I had ever 
hunted. Among my earliest hunting experiences, 
when a lad, were two fruitless and toilsome expedi- 
tions after caribou in the Maine woods. One I 
made in the fall, going to the head of the Mun- 
sungin River in a pirogue, with one companion. 
The water was low, and all the way up we had to 
drag the pirogue, wet to our middles, our ankles 
sore from slipping on the round stones under the 
rushing water, and our muscles aching with fatigue 
When we reached the head-waters we found no 
caribou sign, and came back without slaying any- 
thing larger than an infrequent duck or grouse. 

The following February I made a trip on snow- 
shoes after the same game, and with the same 



The Caribou i8i 

result. However, I enjoyed the trip, for the north- 
land woods are very beautiful and strange in win- 
ter, as indeed they are at all other times — and 
it was my first experience on snow-shoes. I used 
the ordinary webbed racquets, and as the snow, 
though very deep, was only imperfectly crusted, I 
found that for a beginner the exercise was labor- 
ious in the extreme, speedily discovering that, no 
matter how cold it was, while walking through the 
windless woods I stood in no need of warm clothing. 
But at night, especially when lying out, the cold 
was bitter. Our plan was to drive in a sleigh to 
some logging camp, where we were always re- 
ceived with hearty hospitality, and thence make 
htmting trips, in very light marching order, 
through the heart of the surrounding forest. The 
woods, wrapped in their heavy white mantle, were 
still and lifeless. There were a few chickadees and 
woodpeckers ; now and then we saw flocks of red- 
polls, pine linnets, and large, rosy grosbeaks ; and 
once or twice I came across a grouse or white rab- 
bit and killed it for supper; but this was nearly 
all. Yet, though bird life was scarce, and though 
we saw few beasts beyond an occasional porcupine 
or squirrel, every morning the snow was dotted 
with a network of trails made during the hours of 
darkness ; the fine tracery of the footprints of the 
little red wood-mouse, the marks which showed 
the loping progress of the sable, the V and dot of 



1 82 The Wilderness Hunter 

the rabbit, the round pads of the lucivee, and 
many others. The snow reveals, as nothing else 
does, the presence in the forest of the many shy 
woodland creatures which lead their lives abroad 
only after nightfall. Once we saw a coon, out 
early after its winter nap, and following I shot it 
in a hollow tree. Another time we came on a 
deer, and the frightened beast left its ''yard," a 
tangle of beaten paths, or deep furrows. The poor 
animal made but slow headway through the pow- 
dery snow ; after going thirty or forty rods it sank 
exhausted in a deep drift, and lay there in helpless 
panic as we walked close by. Very different were 
the actions of the only caribou we saw — a fine 
beast which had shed its antlers. I merely caught 
a glimpse of it as it leaped over a breastwork of 
down timbers ; and we never saw it again. Alter- 
nately trotting and making a succession of long 
jumps, it speedily left us far behind ; with its great 
splay-hoofs it could snow-shoe better than we 
could. It is among deer the true denizen of the 
regions of heavy snowfall; far more so than the 
moose. Only under exceptional conditions of 
crust-formation is it in any danger from a man on 
snow-shoes. 

In other ways it is no better able to take care of 
itself than moose and deer ; in fact, I doubt whether 
its senses are quite as acute, or at least whether it 
is as wary and knowing, for under like conditions 



The Caribou 183 

it is rather easier to still-hunt. In the fall caribou 
wander long distances, and are fond of frequenting 
the wet barrens, which break the expanse of the 
northern forest in tracts of ever-increasing size as 
the subarctic regions are neared. At this time 
they go in bands, each under the control of a mas- 
ter bull, which wages repeated and furious battles 
for his harem; and in their ways of life they re- 
semble the wapiti more than they do the moose or 
deer. They sometimes display a curious bold- 
ness, the bulls especially showing both stupidity 
and pugnacity when in districts to which men 
rarely penetrate. 

On our way out of the woods, after this hunt, 
there was a slight warm spell, followed by rain and 
then by freezing weather, so as to bring about 
what is known as a silver thaw. Every twig was 
sheathed in glittering ice, and in the moonlight the 
forest gleamed as if carved out of frosted silver. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE WAPITI OR ROUND-HORNED ELK 

ONCE, while on another hunt with John Wil- 
lis, I spent a week in a vain effort to kill 
moose among the outlying mountains at 
the southern end of the Bitter Root range. Then, 
as we had no meat, we determined to try for elk, 
of which we had seen much sign. 

We here camped with a wagon, as high among 
the foothills as wheels could go, but several hours' 
walk from the range of the game ; for it was still 
early in the season, and they had not yet come 
down from the upper slopes. Accordingly we 
made a practice of leaving the wagon for two or 
three days at a time to hunt ; returning to get a 
night's rest in the tent, preparatory to a fresh 
start. On these trips we carried neither blan- 
kets nor packs, as the walking was difficult and we 
had much ground to cover. Each merely put on 
his jacket, with a loaf of frying-pan bread and a 
paper of salt stuffed into the pockets. We were 
cumbered with nothing save our rifles and cart- 
ridges. 

184 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 185 

On the morning in question we left camp at 
sunrise. For two or three hours we walked up 
hill through a rather open growth of small pines 
and spruces, the travelling being easy. Then we 
came to the edge of a deep valley, a couple of 
miles across. Into this we scrambled, down a 
steep slide, where the forest had grown up among 
the immense boulder masses. The going here was 
difficult to a degree ; the great rocks, dead timber, 
slippery pine needles, and loose gravel entailing 
caution at every step, while we had to guard our 
rifles carefully from the consequences of a slip. It 
was not much better at the bottom, which was 
covered by a tangled mass of swampy forest. 
Through this we hunted carefully, but with no 
success, in spite of our toil; for the only tracks 
we saw that were at all fresh were those of a cow 
and calf moose. Finally, in the afternoon, we left 
the valley and began to climb a steep gorge, down 
which a mountain torrent roared and foamed in a 
succession of cataracts. 

Three hours' hard climbing brought us to an- 
other valley, but of an entirely different character. 
It was several miles long, but less than a mile 
broad. Save at the mouth, it was walled in com- 
pletely by chains of high rock-peaks, their sum- 
mits snow-capped; the forest extended a short 
distance up their sides. The bottom of the val- 
ley was in places covered by open woodland, 



i86 The Wilderness Hunter 

elsewhere by marshy meadows, dotted with dense 
groves of spruce. 

Hardly had we entered this valley before we 
caught a glimpse of a yearling elk walking rapidly 
along a game path some distance ahead. We fol- 
lowed as quickly as we could without making a 
noise, but after the first glimpse never saw it 
again ; for it is astonishing how fast an elk travels, 
with its ground-covering walk. We went up the 
valley until we were well past its middle, and saw 
abundance of fresh elk sign. Evidently two or 
three bands had made the neighborhood their 
headquarters. Among them were some large 
bulls, which had been trying their horns not only 
on the quaking-asp and willow saplings, but also 
on one another, though the rut had barely begun. 
By one pool they had scooped out a kind of wal- 
low or bare spot in the grass, and had torn and 
tramped the ground with their hoofs. The place 
smelt strongly of their urine. 

By the time the sun set we were sure the elk 
were towards the head of the valley. We utilized 
the short twilight in arranging our sleeping-place 
for the night, choosing a thick grove of spruce be- 
side a small mountain tarn, at the foot of a great 
cliff. We were chiefly influenced in our choice by 
the abundance of dead timber of a size easy to 
handle; the fuel question being all-important on 
such a trip, where one has to lie out without bed- 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 187 

ding, and to keep up a fire, with no axe to cut 
wood. 

Having selected a smooth spot, where some 
low-growing firs made a wind-break, we dragged 
up enough logs to feed the fire throughout the 
night. Then we drank our fill at the icy pool, and 
ate a few mouthfuls of bread. While it was still 
light we heard the querulous bleat of the conies, 
from among the slide rocks at the foot of the 
mountain; and the chipmunks and chickarees 
scolded at us. As dark came on, and we sat 
silently gazing into the flickering blaze, the owls 
began muttering and hooting. 

Clearing the ground of stones and sticks, we lay 
down beside the fire, pulled our soft felt hats over 
our ears, buttoned our jackets, and went to sleep. 
Of course, our slumbers were fitful and broken, for 
every hour or two the fire got low and had to be 
replenished. We wakened shivering out of each 
spell of restless sleep to find the logs smouldering ; 
we were alternately scorched and frozen. 

As the first faint streak of dawn appeared in the 
dark sky my companion touched me lightly on the 
arm. The fire was nearly out ; we felt numbed by 
the chill air. At once we sprang up, stretched 
our arms, shook ourselves, examined our rifles, 
swallowed a mouthful or two of bread, and walked 
off through the gloomy forest. 

At first we could scarcely see our way, but it 



1 88 The Wilderness Hunter 

grew rapidly lighter. The gray mist rose and 
wavered over the pools and wet places ; the morn- 
ing voices of the wilderness began to break the 
death-like stillness. After we had walked a couple 
of miles the mountain tops on our right hand 
reddened in the sun-rays. 

Then, as we trod noiselessly over the dense 
moss, and on the pine needles under the scattered 
trees, we heard a sharp clang and clatter up the 
valley ahead of us. We knew this meant game of 
some sort ; and stealing lightly and cautiously for- 
ward we soon saw before us the cause of the noise. 

In a little glade, a hundred and twenty-five 
yards from us, two bull elk were engaged in deadly 
combat, while two others were looking on. It was 
a splendid sight. The great beasts faced each 
other with lowered horns, the manes that covered 
their thick necks and the hair on their shoulders 
bristling and erect. Then they charged furiously, 
the crash of the meeting antlers resounding through 
the valley. The shock threw them both on their 
haunches; with locked horns and glaring eyes 
they strove against each other, getting their hind 
legs well under them, straining every muscle in 
their huge bodies, and squealing savagely. They 
were evenly matched in weight, strength, and 
courage ; and push as they might, neither got the 
upper hand, first one yielding a few inches, then 
the other, while they swayed to and fro in their 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 189 

struggles, smashing the bushes and ploughing up 
the soil. 

Finally they separated and stood some little 
distance apart, under the great pines, their sides 
heaving, and columns of steam rising from their 
nostrils through the frosty air of the brightening 
morning. Again they rushed together with a 
crash, and each strove mightily to overthrow the 
other, or get past his guard; but the branching 
antlers caught every vicious lunge and thrust. 
This set-to was stopped rather curiously. One of 
the onlooking elk was a yearling; the other, 
though scarcely as heavy-bodied as either of the 
fighters, had a finer head. He was evidently much 
excited by the battle, and he now began to walk 
towards the two combatants, nodding his head 
and uttering a queer, whistling noise. They dared 
not leave their flanks uncovered to his assault; 
and as he approached they promptly separated, 
and walked off side by side a few yards apart. In 
a moment, however, one spun round and jumped 
at his old adversary, seeking to stab him in 
his unprotected flank; but the latter was just 
as quick, and as before caught the rush on his 
horns. They closed as furiously as ever; but 
the utmost either could do was to inflict one or 
two punches on the neck and shoulders of his 
foe, where the thick hide served as a shield. 
Again the peacemaker approached, nodding his 



190 The Wilderness Hunter 

head, whistling, and threatening; and again they 
separated. 

This was repeated once or twice ; and I began 
to be afraid lest the breeze which was very light 
and puffy should shift and give them my wind. 
So, resting my rifle on my knee, I fired twice, 
putting one bullet behind the shoulder of the 
peacemaker, and the other behind the shoulder 
of one of the combatants. Both were deadly 
shots, but, as so often with wapiti, neither of the 
wounded animals at the moment showed any 
signs of being hit. The yearling ran off un- 
scathed. The other three crowded together and 
trotted behind some spruce on the left, while we 
ran forward for another shot. In a moment one 
fell; whereupon the remaining two turned and 
came back across the glade, trotting to the right. 
As we opened fire they broke into a lumbering 
gallop, but were both downed before they got out 
of sight in the timber. 

As soon as the three bulls were down we busied 
ourselves taking off their heads and hides, and 
cutting off the best portions of the meat — from 
the saddles and hams — to take back to camp, 
where we smoked it. But first we had breakfast. 
We kindled a fire beside a little spring of clear 
water and raked out the coals. Then we cut two 
willow twigs as spits, ran on each a number of 
small pieces of elk loin, and roasted them over the 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 191 

fire. We had salt ; we were very hungry ; and I 
never ate anything that tasted better. 

The wapiti is, next to the moose, the most 
quarrelsome and pugnacious of American deer. It 
cannot be said that it is ordinarily a dangerous 
beast to hunt; yet there are instances in which 
wounded wapiti, incautiously approached to with- 
in striking distance, have severely misused their 
assailants, both with their antlers and their fore 
feet. I myself knew one man who had been 
badly mauled in this fashion. When tamed the 
bulls are dangerous to human life in the rutting 
season. In a grapple they are of course infinitely 
more to be dreaded than ordinary deer, because of 
their great strength. 

However, the fiercest wapiti bull, when in a 
wild state, flees the neighborhood of man with 
the same panic terror shown by the cows ; and he 
makes no stand against a grisly, though when his 
horns are grown he has little fear of either wolf or 
cougar if on his guard and attacked fairly. The 
chief battles of the bulls are of course waged with 
one another. Before the beginning of the rut they 
keep by themselves: singly, while the sprouting 
horns are still very young, at which time they lie 
in secluded spots and move about as little as pos- 
sible; in large bands, later in the season. At the 
beginning of the fall these bands join with one an- 
other and with the bands of cows and calves, 



192 The Wilderness Hunter 

which have hkewise been keeping to themselves 
during the late winter, the spring, and the sum- 
mer. Vast herds are thus sometimes formed, con- 
taining, in the old days when wapiti were plenty, 
thousands of head. The bulls now begin to fight 
furiously with one another, and the great herd 
becomes split into smaller ones. Each of these 
has one master bull, who has won his position by 
savage battle, and keeps it by overcoming every 
rival, whether a solitary bull, or the lord of another 
harem, who challenges him. When not fighting or 
love-making he is kept on the run, chasing away 
the young bulls who venture to pay court to the 
cows. He has hardly time to eat or sleep, and soon 
becomes gaunt and worn to a degree. At the 
close of the rut many of the bulls become so 
emaciated that they retire to some secluded spot 
to recuperate. They are so weak that they readily 
succumb to the elements, or to their brute foes; 
many die from sheer exhaustion. 

The battles between the bulls rarely result 
fatally. After a longer or shorter period of charg- 
ing, pushing, and struggling, the heavier or more 
enduring of the two begins to shove his weaker 
antagonist back and round; and the latter then 
watches his chance and bolts, hotly, but as a rule 
harmlessly, pursued for a few hundred yards. The 
massive branching antlers serve as effective guards 
against the most wicked thrusts. While the an- 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 193 

tagonists are head on, the worst that can happen 
is a punch on the shoulder which will not break 
the thick hide, though it may bruise the flesh un- 
derneath. It is only when a beast is caught while 
turning that there is a chance to deliver a possibly 
deadly stab in the flank, with the brow prongs, 
the "dog-killers," as they are called in bucks. 
Sometimes, but rarely, fighting wapiti get their 
antlers interlocked and perish miserably ; my own 
ranch, the Elkhorn, was named from finding on 
the spot where the ranch-house now stands two 
splendid pairs of elk antlers thus interlocked. 

Wapiti keep their antlers tmtil the spring, 
whereas deer and moose lose theirs by midwinter. 
The bull's behavior in relation to the cow is merely 
that of a vicious and brutal coward. He bullies 
her continually, and in times of danger his one 
thought is for sneaking off to secure his own 
safety. For all his noble looks he is a very un- 
amiable beast, who behaves with brutal ferocity 
to the weak, and shows abject terror of the strong. 
According to his powers, he is guilty of rape, rob- 
bery, and even murder. I never felt the least 
compunction at shooting a bull, but I hate to 
shoot a cow, even when forced by necessity. 
Maternity must always appeal to any one. A cow 
has more courage than a bull. She will fight val- 
iantly for her young calf, striking such blows with 
her fore feet that most beasts of prey at once slink 



194 The Wilderness Hunter 

away from the combat. Cougars and wolves com- 
mit great ravages among the bands ; but they often 
secure their quarry only at the cost of sharp pre- 
liminary tussles — and in tussles of this kind they 
do not always prove victors or escape scathless. 

During the rut the bulls are very noisy; and 
their notes of amorous challenge are called 
** whistling" by the frontiersmen, — very inappro- 
priately. They begin to whistle about ten days 
before they begin to run ; and they have in addi- 
tion an odd kind of bark, which is only heard oc- 
casionally. The whistling is a most curious, and 
to me a most attractive sound, when heard in the 
great lonely mountains. As with so many other 
things, much depends upon the surroundings. 
When listened to nearby and under unfavorable 
circumstances, the sound resembles a succession 
of hoarse whistling roars, ending with two or three 
gasping grunts. 

But heard at a little distance, and in its proper 
place, the call of the wapiti is one of the grandest 
and most beautiful sounds in nature. Especially 
is this the case when several rivals are answering 
one another, on some frosty moonlight night in 
the mountains. The wild melody rings from 
chasm to chasm under the giant pines, sustained 
and modulated, through bar after bar, filled with 
challenge and proud anger. It thrills the soul of 
the listening hunter. 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 195 

Once, while in the mountains, I listened to a 
peculiarly grand chorus of this kind. We were 
travelling with pack-ponies at the time, and our 
tent was pitched in a grove of yellow pine, by a 
brook in the bottom of a valley. On either hand 
rose the mountains, covered with spruce forest. 
It was in September, and the first snow had just 
fallen. 

The day before we. had walked long and hard ; 
and during the night I slept the heavy sleep of the 
weary. Early in the morning, just as the east 
began to grow gray, I waked ; and as I did so, the 
sounds that smote on my ear caused me to sit up 
and throw off the warm blankets. Bull elk were 
challenging among the mountains on both sides of 
the valley, a little way from us, their notes echoing 
like the calling of silver bugles. Groping about in 
the dark, I drew on my trousers, an extra pair of 
thick socks, and my moccasins, donned a warm 
jacket, found my fur cap and gloves, and stole out 
of the tent with my rifle. 

The air was very cold; the stars were begin- 
ning to pale in the dawn ; on the ground the snow 
glimmered white, and lay in feathery masses on 
the branches of the balsams and young pines. The 
air rang with the challenges of many wapiti ; their 
incessant calling came pealing down through the 
still, snow-laden woods. First one bull chal- 
legend; then another answered; then another 



196 ' The Wilderness Hunter 

and another. Two herds were approaching one 
another from opposite sides of the valley, a short 
distance above our camp; and the master bulls 
were roaring defiance as they mustered their 
harems. 

I walked stealthily up the valley, until I felt 
that I was nearly between the two herds; and 
then stood motionless under a tall pine. The 
ground was quite open at this point, the pines, 
though large, being scattered; the little brook 
ran with a strangled murmur between its rows of 
willows and alders, for the ice along its edges 
nearly skimmed its breadth. The stars paled 
rapidly, the gray dawn brightened, and in the sky 
overhead faint rose-colored streaks were turning 
blood-red. What little wind there was breathed 
in my face and kept me from discovery. 

I made up my mind, from the sound of the chal- 
lenging, now very near me, that one bull on my 
right was advancing towards a rival on my left, 
who was answering every call. Soon the former 
approached so near that I could hear him crack 
the branches, and beat the bushes with his horns ; 
and I slipped quietly from tree to tree, so as to 
meet him when he came out into the more 
open woodland. Day broke, and crimson gleams 
played across the snow-clad mountains beyond. 

At last, just as the sun flamed red above the 
hill-tops, I heard the roar of the wapiti's challenge 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 197 

not fifty yards away ; and I cocked and half raised 
my rifle, and stood motionless. In a moment more, 
the belt of spruces in front of me swayed and 
opened, and the lordly bull stepped out. He bore 
his massive antlers aloft; the snow lay thick on 
his mane ; he snuffed the air and stamped on the 
ground as he walked. As I drew a bead, the mo- 
tion caught his eye ; and instantly his bearing of 
haughty and warlike self-confidence changed to 
one of alarm. My bullet smote through his 
shoulder-blades, and he plunged wildly forward, 
and fell full length on the blood-stained snow. 

Nothing can be finer than a wapiti bull's car- 
riage when excited or alarmed ; he then seems the 
embodiment of strength and stately grace. But 
at ordinary times his looks are less attractive, as 
he walks with his neck level with his body and his 
head outstretched, his horns lying almost on his 
shoulders. The favorite gait of the wapiti is the 
trot, which is very fast, and which they can keep 
up for countless miles ; when suddenly and greatly 
alarmed, they break into an awkward gallop, 
which is faster, but which speedily tires them. 

I have occasionally killed elk in the neighbor- 
hood of my ranch on the Little Missouri. They 
were very plentiful along this river until 1881, but 
the last of the big bands were slaughtered or scat- 
tered about that time. Smaller bunches were 
fotind for two or three years longer; and to this 



igS The Wilderness Hunter 

day, scattered individuals, singly or in parties of 
two or three, linger here and there in the most 
remote and inaccessible parts of the broken 
country. In the old times they were often found 
on the open prairie, and were fond of sunning 
themselves on the sand-bars by the river, even at 
midday, while they often fed by daylight (as they 
do still in remote mountain fastnesses). Now- 
adays the few survivors dwell in the timber of 
the roughest ravines, and only venture abroad at 
dusk or even after nightfall. Thanks to their 
wariness and seclusiveness, their presence is often 
not even suspected by the cowboys or others who 
occasionally ride through their haunts; and so 
the hunters only know vaguely of their existence. 
It thus happens that the last individuals of a spe- 
cies may linger in a locality for many years after 
the rest of their kind have vanished ; on the Little 
Missouri to-day every elk (as in the Rockies every 
buffalo) killed is at once set down as ''the last of 
its race." For several years in succession I my- 
self kept killing one or two such "last survivors." 
A yearling bull which I thus obtained was killed 
while in company with my staunch friend Will 
Dow, on one of the first trips which I took with 
that prince of drivers, old man Tompkins. We 
were laying in our stock of winter meat ; and had 
taken the wagon to go to a knot of high and very 
rugged hills where we knew there were deer, and 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 199 

thought there might be elk. Old Tompkins drove 
the wagon with unmoved composure up, down, 
and across frightful-looking hills, and when they 
became wholly impassable, steered the team over 
a cut bank and up a kind of winding ravine or 
wooded washout, until it became too rough and 
narrow for farther progress. There was good 
grass for the horses on a hill off to one side of us ; 
and stunted cottonwood trees grew between the 
straight white walls of clay and sandstone which 
hemmed in the washout. We pitched our tent by 
a little trickling spring and kindled a great fire, 
the fitful glare lighting the bare cliffs and the queer 
sprawling tops of the cottonwoods; and after a 
dinner of fried prairie-chicken went to bed. At 
dawn we were off, and hunted till nearly noon, 
when Dow, who had been walking to one side, 
beckoned to me and remarked: "There 's some- 
thing mighty big in the timber down under the 
cliff; I guess it 's an elk" (he had never seen one 
before) ; and the next moment, as old Tompkins 
expressed it, "the elk came bilin' out of the cou- 
lie." Old Tompkins had a rifle on this occasion, 
and the sight of game always drove him crazy ; as 
I aimed I heard Dow telling him to "let the boss 
do the shooting" ; and I killed the elk to a savage 
inter jectional accompaniment of threats delivered 
at old man Tompkins between the shots. 

Elk are sooner killed off than any other game 



200 The Wilderness Hunter 

save buffalo, but this is due to their size and the 
nature of the ground they frequent rather than to 
their lack of shyness. They like open woodland, 
or mountainous park country, or hills riven by 
timber coulies ; and such ground is the most fa- 
vorable to the hunter, and the most attractive in 
which to hunt. On the other hand, moose, for 
instance, live in such dense cover that it is very 
difficult to get at them; when elk are driven by 
incessant persecution to take refuge in similar 
fastnesses they become almost as hard to kill. In 
fact, in this respect the elk stands to the moose 
much as the blacktail stands to the whitetail. 
The moose and whitetail are somewhat warier 
than the elk and blacktail ; but it is the nature of 
the ground which they inhabit that tells most in 
their favor. On the other hand, as compared to 
the blacktail, it is only the elk's size which puts it 
at a disadvantage in the struggle for life when the 
rifle-bearing hunter appears on the scene. It is 
quite as shy and difficult to approach as the deer ; 
but its bulk renders it much more eagerly hunted, 
more readily seen, and more easily hit. Occasion- 
ally elk suffer from fits of stupid tameness or 
equally stupid panic : but the same is true of black- 
tail. In two or three instances I have seen elk 
show silly ignorance of danger; but half a dozen 
times I have known blacktail behave with an even 
greater degree of stupid familiarity. 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 201 

There is another point in which the wapiti and 
blacktail agree in contrast to the moose and white- 
tail. Both the latter delight in water-lilies, enter- 
ing the ponds to find them, and feeding on them 
greedily. The wapiti is very fond of wallowing in 
the mud, and of bathing in pools and lakes; but 
as a rule it shows as little fondness as the blacktail 
for feeding on water-lilies or other aquatic plants. 

In reading of the European red deer, which is 
nothing but a diminutive wapiti, we often see a 
'' stag of ten" alluded to as if a full-grown monarch. 
A full-grown wapiti bull, however, always has 
twelve, and may have fourteen, regular normal 
points on his antlers, besides irregular additional 
prongs ; and he occasionally has ten points when 
a two-year-old, as I have myself seen with calves 
captured young and tamed. The calf has no 
horns. The yearling carries two foot-long spikes, 
sometimes bifurcated, so as to make four points. 
The two-year-old often has six or eight points on 
his antlers ; but sometimes ten, although they are 
always small. The three-year-old has eight or 
ten points, while his body may be nearly as large 
as that of a full-grown animal. The four-year- 
old is normally a ten- or twelve-pointer, but as yet 
with much smaller antlers than those so proudly 
borne by the old bulls. 

Frontiersmen only occasionally distinguish the 
prongs by name. The brow and bay points are 



202 The Wilderness Hunter 

called dog-killers or war-tines ; the tray is known 
simply as the third point ; and the most character- 
istic prong, the long and massive fourth, is now 
and then called the dagger-point ; the others being 
known as the fifth and sixth. 

In the high mountain forest into which the 
wapiti has been driven, the large, heavily furred 
northern lynx, the lucivee, takes the place of the 
smaller, thinner-haired lynx of the plains and of 
the more southern districts, the bobcat or wildcat. 
On the Little Missouri the latter is the common 
form; yet I have seen a lucivee which was killed 
there. On Clarke's Fork of the Columbia both 
occur, the lucivee being the most common. They 
feed chiefly on hares, squirrels, grouse, fawns, etc. ; 
and the lucivee, at least, also occasionally kills 
foxes and coons, and has in its turn to dread the 
pounce of the big timber wolf. Both kinds of lynx 
can most easily be killed with dogs, as they tree 
quite readily when thus pursued. The wildcat is 
often followed on horseback, with a pack of hounds 
when the country is favorable ; and when chased 
in this fashion yields excellent sport. The skin of 
both these lynxes is tender. They often maul an 
inexperienced pack quite badly, inflicting several 
scratches and bites on any hound which has just 
resolution enough to come to close quarters, but 
not to rush in furiously; but a big fighting dog 
will readily kill either. At Thompson's Falls two 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 203 

of Willis's hounds killed a lucivee unaided, though 
one got torn. Archibald Rogers's dog Sly, a cross 
between a greyhound and a bull mastiff, killed a 
bobcat single-handed. He bayed the cat and then 
began to threaten it, leaping from side to side; 
suddenly he broke the motion, and rushing in got 
his foe by the small of the back and killed it with- 
out receiving a scratch. 

The porcupine is sure to attract the notice of 
any one going through the mountains. It is also 
found in the timber belts fringing the streams of 
the great plains, where it lives for a week at a time 
in a single tree or clump of trees, peeling the bark 
from the limbs. But it is the easiest of all animals 
to exterminate, and is now abundant only in deep 
mountain forests. It is very tame and stupid ; it 
goes on the ground, but its fastest pace is a clumsy 
waddle, and on trees, but is the poorest of tree- 
climbers, — grasping the trunk like a small, slow 
bear. It can neither escape nor hide. It trusts 
to its quills for protection, as the skunk does to its 
odor; but it is far less astute and more helpless 
than the skunk. It is readily made into a very 
unsuspicious and familiar, but uninteresting, pet. 
I have known it come into camp in the daytime, 
and forage round the fire by which I was sitting. 
Its coat protects it against most foes. Bears 
sometimes eat it when very hungry, as they will 
eat anything; and I think that elk occasionally 



204 The Wilderness Hunter 

destroy it in sheer wantonness. One of its most 
resolute foes is the fisher, that big sable — almost a 
wolverine — which preys on everything, from a 
coon to a fawn, or even a small fox. 

The noisy, active little chickarees and chip- 
munks, however, are by far the most num.erous 
and lively denizens of these deep forests. They 
are very abundant and very noisy; scolding the 
travellers exactly as they do the bears when the 
latter dig up the caches of ants. The chipmunks 
soon grow tame and visit camp to pick up the 
crusts. The chickarees often ascend to the high- 
est pine tops, where they cut off the cones, drop- 
ping them to the ground with a noise which often 
for a moment puzzles the still-hunter. 

Two of the most striking and characteristic 
birds to be seen by him who hunts and camps 
among the pine-clad and spruce-clad slopes of the 
northern Rockies are a small crow and a rather 
large woodpecker. The former is called Clark's 
crow, and the latter Lewis's woodpecker. Their 
names commemorate their discoverers, the ex- 
plorers Lewis and Clark, the first white men who 
crossed the United States to the Pacific, the pio- 
neers of that great army of adventurers who since 
then have roamed and hunted over the great 
plains and among the Rocky Mountains. 

These birds are nearly of a size, being about 
as large as a flicker. The Clark crow, an ash- 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 205 

colored bird with black wings and white tail and 
forehead, is as common as it is characteristic, and 
is sure to attract attention. It is as knowing as 
the rest of its race, and very noisy and active. It 
flies sometimes in a straight line, with regular 
wing-beats, sometimes in a succession of loops 
like a woodpecker, and often lights on rough bark 
or a dead stump in an attitude like the latter ; and 
it is very fond of scrambling and clinging, often 
head downwards, among the outermost cones on 
the top of a pine, chattering loudly all the while. 
One of the noticeable features of its flight is the 
hollow, beating sound of the wings. It is restless 
and fond of company, going by preference in small 
parties. These little parties often indulge in reg- 
ular plays, assembling in some tall tree-top and 
sailing round and round it, in noisy pursuit of one 
another, lighting continually among the branches. 
The Lewis woodpecker, a handsome, dark- 
green bird, with white breast and red belly, is 
much rarer, quite as shy, and generally less noisy 
and conspicuous. Its flight is usually strong and 
steady, like a jay's, and it perches upright among 
the twigs, or takes short flights after passing in- 
sects, as often as it scrambles over the twigs in 
the ordinary woodpecker fashion. Like its com- 
panion, the Clark crow, it is ordinarily a bird 
of the high tree-tops, and around these it in- 
dulges in curious aerial games, again like those of 



2o6 The Wilderness Hunter 

the little crow. It is fond of going in troops, and 
such a troop frequently choose some tall pine and 
soar round and above it in irregular spirals. 

The remarkable and almost amphibious little 
water-wren, with its sweet song, its familiarity, 
and its very curious habit of running on the 
bottom of the stream, several feet beneath the 
surface of the race of rapid water, is the most 
noticeable of the small birds of the Rocky Moun- 
tains. It sometimes sings loudly while floating 
with half spread wings on the surface of a little 
pool. Taken as a whole, small birds are far less 
numerous and noticeable in the wilderness, especi- 
ally in the deep forests, than in the groves and 
farmland of the settled country. The hunter and 
trapper are less familiar with small-bird music 
than with the screaming of the eagle and the 
large hawks, the croaking bark of the raven, 
the loon's cry, the crane's guttural clangor, and 
the unearthly yelling and hooting of the big owls. 

No bird is so common around camp, so familiar, 
so amusing on some occasions, and so annoying on 
others, as that drab-colored imp of iniquity, the 
whisky- jack — also known as the moose-bird and 
camp-robber. The familiarity of these birds is 
astonishing, and the variety of their cries — gen- 
erally harsh, but rarely musical — extraordinary. 
They snatch scraps of food from the entrances of 
the tents, and from beside the camp-fire ; and they 



Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 207 

shred the venison hting in the trees unless closely 
watched. I have seen an irate cook of accurate 
aim knock one off an elk-haunch, with a club 
seized at random ; and I have known another to 
be killed with a switch, and yet another to be 
caught alive in the hand. When game is killed 
they are the first birds to come to the carcass. 
Following them come the big jays, of a uniform 
dark-blue color, who bully them, and are bullied 
in turn by the next arrivals, the magpies ; while, 
when the big ravens come, they keep all the others 
in the background, with the exception of an occa- 
sional wide-awake magpie. 

For a steady diet, no meat tastes better or is 
more nourishing than elk venison ; moreover, the 
different kinds of grouse give variety to the fare, 
and delicious trout swarm throughout the haunts 
of the elk in the Rockies. I have never seen them 
more numerous than in the wonderful and beauti- 
ful Yellowstone Canyon, a couple of miles below 
where the river pitches over the Great Falls, in 
wind-swayed cataracts of snowy foam. At this 
point it runs like a mill-race, in its narrow, winding 
bed, between immense walls of queerly carved and 
colored rock, which tower aloft in almost per- 
pendicular cliffs. Late one afternoon in the fall of 
'90 Ferguson and I clambered down into the can- 
yon, with a couple of rods, and in an hour caught 
all the fish we could carry. It then lacked much 



2o8 The Wilderness Hunter 

less than an hour of nightfall, and we had a hard 
climb to get out of the canyon before darkness 
overtook us ; as there was not a vestige of a path, 
and as the climbing was exceedingly laborious and 
at one or two points not entirely without danger, 
the rocks being practicable in very few places, we 
could hardly have made much progress after it 
became too dark to see. Each of us carried the 
bag of trout in turn, and I personally was nearly 
done out when we reached the top ; and then had 
to trot three miles to the horses. 



CHAPTER X 

AN ELK-HUNT AT TWO-OCEAN PASS 

IN September, 1891, with my ranch-partner, 
Ferguson, I made an elk-hunt in north- 
western Wyoming among the Shoshone Moun- 
tains, where they join the Hoodoo and Absoraka 
ranges. There is no more beautiful game-country 
in the United States. It is a park land, where 
glades, meadows, and high mountain pastures 
break the evergreen forest — a forest which is open 
compared to the tangled density of the woodland 
farther north. It is a high, cold region of many 
lakes and clear rushing streams. The steep moun- 
tains are generally of the rounded form so often 
seen in the ranges of the Cordilleras of the United 
States; but the Hoodoos, or Goblins, are carved 
in fantastic and extraordinary shapes; while the 
Tetons, a group of isolated rock-peaks, show a 
striking boldness in their lofty outlines. 

This was one of the pleasantest hunts I ever 
made. As always in the mountains, save where 
the country is so rough and so densely wooded 
that one must go afoot, we had a pack-train ; and 
we took a more complete outfit than we had ever 

VOL. I.— 14 

209 



2IO The Wilderness Hunter 

before taken on such a hunt, and so travelled in 
much comfort. Usually when in the motmtains 
I have merely had one companion, or at most a 
couple, and two or three pack-ponies ; each of us 
doing his share of the packing, cooking, fetching 
water, and pitching the small square of canvas 
which served as tent. In itself, packing is both an 
art and a mystery, and a skilful professional 
packer, versed in the intricacies of the "diamond 
hitch," packs with a speed which no non-profes- 
sional can hope to rival, and fixes the side packs 
and top packs with such scientific nicety, and ad- 
justs the doubles and turns of the lash-rope so 
accurately, that everything stays in place under 
any but the most adverse conditions, Of course, 
like most hunters, I can myself in case of need 
throw the diamond hitch after a fashion, and pack 
on either the off or near side. Indeed, unless a 
man can pack it is not possible to make a really 
hard hunt in the mountains if alone, or with only 
a single companion. The mere fair-weather hun- 
ter, who trusts entirely to the exertions of others, 
and does nothing more than ride or walk about 
under favorable circumstances, and shoots at 
what somebody else shows him, is a hunter in name 
only. Whoever would really deserve the title 
must be able at a pinch to shift for himself, to 
grapple with the difficulties and hardships of 
wilderness life unaided, and not only to hunt, but 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 211 

at times to travel for days, whether on foot or on 
horseback, alone. However, after one has passed 
one's novitiate, it is pleasant to be comfortable 
when the comfort does not interfere with the 
sport; and although a man sometimes likes to 
hunt alone, yet often it is well to be with some old 
mountain hunter, a master of woodcraft, who is a 
first-rate hand at finding game, creeping upon it, 
and tracking it when wounded. With such a 
companion one gets much more game, and learns 
many things by observation instead of by painful 
experience. 

On this trip we had with us two hunters, Taze- 
well Woody and Elwood Hofer, a packer who 
acted as cook, and a boy to herd the horses. Of 
the latter, there were twenty: six saddle-animals 
and fourteen for the packs — two or three being 
spare horses, to be used later in carrying the elk- 
antlers, sheep-horns, and other trophies. Like 
most himters' pack-animals, they were either 
half -broken, or else broken down; tough, un- 
kempt, jaded-looking beasts of every color — sor- 
rel, buckskin, pinto, white, bay, roan. After the 
day's work was over, they were turned loose to 
shift for themselves ; and about once a week they 
strayed, and all hands had to spend the better 
part of the day hunting for them. The worst 
ones for straying, curiously enough, were three 
brokendown old "bear-baits," which went by 



212 The Wilderness Hunter 

themselves, as is generally the case with the 
cast-off horses of a herd. There were two sleeping 
tents, another for the provisions, — in which we ate 
during bad weather, — and a canvas tepee, which 
was put up with lodge-poles, Indian fashion, like a 
wigwam. A tepee is more difficult to put up than 
an ordinary tent ; but it is very convenient when 
there is rain or snow. A small fire kindled in the 
middle keeps it warm, the smoke escaping through 
the open top — that is, when it escapes at all; 
strings are passed from one pole to another, on 
which to hang wet clothes and shoes, and the beds 
are made around the edges. As an offset to the 
warmth and shelter, the smoke often renders it 
impossible even to sit upright. We had a very 
good camp-kit, including plenty of cooking- and 
eating-utensils; and among our provisions were 
some canned goods and sweetmeats, to give a 
relish to our meals of meat and bread. We had 
fur coats and warm clothes, — which are chiefly 
needed at night, — and plenty of bedding, includ- 
ing waterproof canvas sheeting and a couple of 
caribou-hide sleeping-bags, procured from the sur- 
vivors of a party of arctic explorers. Except on 
rainy days I used my buckskin hunting-shirt or 
tunic; in dry weather I deem it, because of its 
color, texture, and durability, the best possible 
garb for the still-hunter, especially in the woods. 
Starting a day's journey south of Heart Lake, 



An Elk- Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 213 

we travelled and hunted on the eastern edge of 
the great basin, wooded and moiintainous, where- 
in rises the head-waters of the mighty Snake 
River. There was not so much as a spotted line — 
that series of blazes made with the axe, man's first 
highway through the hoary forest; but this we 
did not mind, as for most of the distance we fol- 
lowed the well-worn elk trails. The train travelled 
in Indian file. At the head, to pick the path, rode 
tall, silent old Woody, a true type of the fast- 
vanishing race of game hunters and Indian fight- 
ers, a man who had been one of the California 
forty-niners, and who ever since had lived the rest- 
less, reckless life of the wilderness. Then came 
Ferguson and myself; then the pack-animals, 
strung out in line; while from the rear rose the 
varied oaths of our three companions, whose mis- 
erable duty it was to urge forward the beasts of 
burden. 

It is heart-breaking work to drive a pack-train 
through thick timber and over mountains, where 
there is either a dim trail or none. The animals 
have a perverse faculty for choosing the wrong 
turn at critical moments ; and they are continually 
scraping under branches and squeezing between 
tree-trunks, to the jeopardy or destruction of 
their burdens. After having been laboriously 
driven up a very steep incline, at the cost of severe 
exertion both to them and to the men, the foolish 



214 The Wilderness Hunter 

creatures turn and run down to the bottom, so 
that all the work has to be done over again. Some 
travel too slow ; others travel too fast. Yet one 
cannot but admire the toughness of the animals, 
and the surefootedness with which they pick their 
way along the sheer mountain-sides, or among 
boulders and over fallen logs. 

As our way was so rough, we found that we had 
to halt at least once every hour to fix the packs. 
Moreover, we at the head of the column were 
continually being appealed to for help by the un- 
fortunates in the rear. First it would be " that 
white-eyed cay use; one side of its pack 's down!" 
then we would be notified that the saddle-blanket 
of the "lop-eared Indian buckskin" had slipped 
back; then a shout ''Look out for the pinto!" 
would be followed by that pleasing beast's appear- 
ance, bucking and squealing, smashing dead tim- 
ber, and scattering its load to the four winds. It 
was no easy task to get the horses across some of 
the boggy places without miring ; or to force them 
through the denser portions of the forest, where 
there was much down timber. Riding with a 
pack-train, day in and day out, becomes both 
monotonous and irritating, unless one is upheld 
by the hope of a game country ahead, or by the 
delight of exploration of the unknown. Yet when 
buoyed by such a hope, there is pleasure in taking 
a train across so beautiful and wild a country as 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 215 

that which lay on the threshold of our hunting- 
grounds in the Shoshones, We went over moun- 
tain passes, with ranges of scalped peaks on either 
hand ; we skirted the edges of lovely lakes, and of 
streams with boulder-strewn beds; we plunged 
into depths of sombre woodland, broken by wet 
prairies. It was a picturesque sight to see the 
loaded pack-train stringing across one of these 
high mountain meadows, the raotley colored line 
of ponies winding round the marshy spots through 
the bright green grass, while beyond rose the dark 
line of frowning forest, with lofty peaks towering 
in the background. Some of the meadows were 
beautiful with many flowers — goldenrod, purple 
aster, bluebells, white immortelles, and here and 
there masses of blood-red Indian pinks. In the 
park country, on the edges of the evergreen forest, 
were groves of delicate quaking-aspen, the trees 
often growing to quite a height ; their tremulous 
leaves were already changing to bright green and 
yellow, occasionally with a reddish blush. In the 
Rocky Mountains the aspens are almost the only 
deciduous trees, their foliage offering a pleasant 
relief to the eye after the monotony of the unend- 
ing pine and spruce woods, which afford so strik- 
ing a contrast to the hardwood forest east of the 
Mississippi. 

For two days our journey was uneventful, save 
that we came on the camp of a squaw-man — one 



2i6 The Wilderness Hunter 

Beaver Dick, an old mountain hunter, living in a 
skin tepee, where dwelt his comely Indian wife 
and half-breed children. He had quite a herd of 
horses, many of them mares and colts ; they had 
evidently been well treated, and came up to us 
fearlessly. 

The morning of the third day of our journey 
was gray and lowering. Gusts of rain blew in my 
face as I rode at the head of the train. It still 
lacked an hour of noon, as we were plodding up a 
valley beside a rapid brook running through nar- 
row willow-flats, the dark forest crowding down 
on either hand from the low foothills of the moun- 
tains. Suddenly the call of a bull elk came echoing 
down through the wet woodland on our right, be- 
yond the brook, seemingly less than half a mile 
off, and was answered by a faint, far-off call from 
a rival on the mountain beyond. Instantly halt- 
ing the train. Woody and I slipped off our horses, 
crossed the brook, and started to still-hunt the 
first bull. 

In this place the forest was composed of the 
western tamarack; the large, tall trees stood well 
apart, and there was much down timber, but the 
ground was covered with deep wet moss, over 
which we trod silently. The elk was travelling 
up-wind, but slowly, stopping continually to paw 
the ground and thresh the bushes with his antlers. 
He was very noisy, challenging every minute or 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 217 

two, being doubtless much excited by the neigh- 
borhood of his rival on the mountain. We fol- 
lowed, Woody leading, guided by the incessant 
calling. 

It was very exciting as we crept toward the 
great bull, and the challenge sounded nearer and 
nearer. While we were still at some distance the 
pealing notes were like those of a bugle, delivered 
in two bars, first rising, then abruptly falling; as 
we drew nearer they took on a harsh squealing 
sound. Each call made our veins thrill ; it sotmded 
like the cry of some huge beast of prey. At last 
we heard the roar of the challenge not eighty yards 
off. Stealing forward three or four yards, I saw 
the tips of the horns through a mass of dead tim- 
ber and young growth, and I slipped to one side 
to get a clean shot. Seeing us, but not making 
out what we were, and full of fierce and insolent 
excitement, the wapiti bull stepped boldly toward 
us with a stately swinging gait. Then he stood 
motionless, facing us, barely fifty yards away, his 
handsome twelve-tined antlers tossed aloft, as he 
held his head with the lordly grace of his kind. I 
fired into his chest, and as he turned I raced for- 
ward and shot him in the flank; but the second 
bullet was not needed, for the first wound was 
mortal, and he fell before going fifty yards. 

The dead elk lay among the young evergreens. 
The huge, shapely body was set on legs that were 



2i8 The Wilderness Hunter 

as strong as steel rods, and yet slender, clean, and 
smooth; they were in color a beautiful dark 
brown, contrasting well with the yellowish of the 
body. The neck and throat were garnished with 
a mane of long hair; the symmetry of the great 
horns set off the fine, delicate lines of the noble 
head. He had been wallowing, as elk are fond of 
doing, and the dried mud clung in patches to his 
flank; a stab in the haunch showed that he had 
been overcome in battle by some master bull who 
had turned him out of the herd. 

We cut off the head, and bore it down to the 
train. The horses crowded together, snorting, 
with their ears pricked forward, as they smelt the 
blood. We also took the loins with us, as we were 
out of meat, though bull elk in the rutting season 
is not very good. The rain had changed to a 
steady downpour when we again got under way. 
Two or three miles farther we pitched camp, in a 
clump of pines on a hillock in the bottom of the 
valley, starting hot fires of pitchy stumps before 
the tents, to dry our wet things. 

Next day opened with fog and cold rain. The 
drenched pack-animals, when driven into camp, 
stood mopingly, with drooping heads and arched 
backs; they groaned and grunted as the loads 
were placed on their backs and the cinches tight- 
ened, the packers bracing one foot against the 
pack to get a purchase as they hauled in on the 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 219 

lash-rope. A stormy morning is a trial to temper ; 
the packs are wet and heavy, and the cold makes 
the work even more than usually hard on the 
hands. By ten we broke camp. It needs be- 
tween two and three hours to break camp and get 
such a train properly packed; once started, our 
day's journey was six to eight hours, making no 
halt. We started up a steep, pine-clad mountain- 
side, broken by cliffs. My hunting-shoes, though 
comfortable, were old and thin, and let the water 
through like a sieve. On the top of the first pla- 
teau, where black spruce groves were strewn 
across the grassy surface, we saw a band of elk, 
cows and calves, trotting off through the rain. 
Then we plunged down into a deep valley, and, 
crossing it, a hard climb took us to the top of a 
great bare table -land, bleak and wind-swept. We 
passed little alpine lakes, fringed with scattering 
dwarf evergreens. Snow lay in drifts on the 
north side of the gullies ; a cutting wind blew the 
icy rain in our faces. For two or three hours we 
travelled toward the farther edge of the table- 
land. In one place a spike bull elk stood half a 
mile off, in the open; he travelled to and fro, 
watching us. 

As we neared the edge the storm lulled, and 
pale, watery sunshine gleamed through the rifts 
in the low-scudding clouds. At last our horses 
stood on the brink of a bold cliff. Deep down 



2 20 The Wilderness Hunter 

beneath our feet lay the wild and lonely valley of 
Two-Ocean Pass, walled in on either hand by 
rugged mountain chains, their flanks scarred and 
gashed by precipice and chasm. Beyond, in a 
wilderness of jagged and barren peaks, stretched 
the Shoshones. At the middle point of the pass, 
two streams welled down from either side. At 
first each flowed in but one bed, but soon divided 
into two; each of the twin branches then joined 
the like branch of the brook opposite, and swept 
one to the east and one to the west, on their long 
journey to the two great oceans. They ran as 
rapid brooks, through wet meadows and willow- 
fiats, the eastern to the Yellowstone, the western 
to the Snake. The dark pine forests swept down 
from the flanks and lower ridges of the mountains 
to the edges of the marshy valley. Above them 
jutted gray rock-peaks, snowdrifts lying in the 
rents that seamed their northern faces. Far be- 
low us, from a great basin at the foot of the cliff, 
filled with the pine forest, rose the musical chal- 
lenge of a bull elk ; and we saw a band of cows and 
calves looking like mice as they ran among the 
trees. 

It was getting late, and after some search we 
failed to find any trail leading down ; so at last we 
plunged over the brink at a venture. It was very 
rough scrambling, dropping from bench to bench, 
and in places it was not only difficult but danger- 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 221 

ous for the loaded pack-animals. Here and there 
we were helped by well-beaten elk trails, which we 
could follow for several hundred yards at a time. 
On one narrow pine-clad ledge, we met a spike 
bull face to face ; and in scrambling down a very 
steep, bare, rock-strewn shoulder the loose stones 
started by the horses' hoofs, bounding in great 
leaps to the forest below, dislodged two cows. 

As evening fell, we reached the bottom, and 
pitched camp in a beautiful point of open pine 
forest, thrust out into the meadow. There was 
good shelter, and plenty of wood, water, and 
grass ; we built a huge fire and put up our tents, 
scattering them in likely places among the pines, 
which grew far apart and without undergrowth. 
We dried our steaming clothes, and ate a hearty 
supper of elk-meat ; then we turned into our beds, 
warm and dry, and slept soundly under the can- 
vas, while all night long the storm roared with- 
out. Next morning it still stormed fitfully; the 
high peaks and ridges round about were all capped 
with snow. Woody and I started on foot for an 
all-day tramp ; the amount of game seen the day 
before showed that we were in good elk country, 
where the elk had been so little disturbed that 
they were travelling, feeding, and whistling in 
daylight. For three hours we walked across the 
forest-clad spurs of the foothills. We roused a 
small band of elk in thick timber; but they 



222 The Wilderness Hunter 

rushed off before we saw them, with much 
smashing of dead branches. Then we climbed to 
the summit of the range. The wind was Hght 
and baffling; it blew from all points, veering 
every few minutes. There were occasional rain- 
squalls; our feet and legs were^well soaked; and 
we became chilled through whenever we sat 
down to listen. We caught a glimpse of a big 
bull feeding up-hill, and followed him; it needed 
smart running to overtake him, for an elk, even 
while feeding, has a ground-covering gait. Fin- 
ally we got within a hundred and twenty-five 
yards, but in very thick timber, and all I could 
see plainly was the hip and the after-part of the 
flank. I waited for a chance at the shoulder, 
but the bull got my wind and was off before I 
could pull trigger. It was just one of those oc- 
casions when there are two courses to pursue, 
neither very good, and when one is apt to regret 
whichever decision is made. 

At noon we came to the edge of a deep and 
wide gorge, and sat down shivering to wait what 
might turn up, our fingers numb, and our wet 
feet icy. Suddenly the love-challenge of an elk 
came pealing across the gorge, through the fine, 
cold rain, from the heart of the forest opposite 
An hour's stiff climb, down and up, brought us 
nearly to him ; but the wind forced us to advance 
from below through a series of open glades. He 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 223 

was lying on a point of the cliff-shoulder, sur- 
rounded by his cows, and he saw us and made 
off. An hour afterward, as we were trudging up 
a steep hillside dotted with groves of fir and 
spruce, a young bull of ten points, roused from 
his day-bed by our approach, galloped across us 
some sixty yards off. We were in need of better 
venison than can be furnished by an old rutting 
bull; so I instantly took shot at the fat and 
tender young ten-pointer. I aimed well ahead 
and pulled trigger just as he came to a small gully, 
and he fell into it in a heap with a resounding 
crash. This was on the birthday of my eldest 
small son; so I took him home the horns, ''for 
his very own." On the way back that after- 
noon I shot off the heads of two blue grouse, as 
they perched in the pines. 

That evening the storm broke, and the weather 
became clear and very cold, so that the snow 
made the frosty mountains gleam like silver. 
The moon was full, and in the flood of light the 
wild scenery round our camp was very beautiful. 
As always where we camped for several days, we 
had fixed long tables and settles, and were most 
comfortable ; and when we came in at nightfall, or 
sometimes long afterward, cold, tired, and hun- 
gry, it was sheer physical delight to get warm 
before the roaring fire of pitchy stumps, and then 
to feast ravenously on bread and beans, on stewed 



2 24 The Wilderness Hunter 

or roasted elk venison, on grouse, and sometimes 
trout, and flapjacks with maple syrup. 

Next morning dawned clear and cold, the sky 
a glorious blue. Woody and I started to hunt 
over the great table-land, and led our stout horses 
up the mountain-side, by elk trails so bad that 
they had to climb like goats. All these elk trails 
have one striking peculiarity. They lead through 
thick timber, but every now and then send off 
short, well-worn branches to some cliff-edge or 
jutting crag, commanding a view far and wide 
over the country beneath. Elk love to stand on 
these lookout points, and scan the valleys and 
mountains round about. 

Blue grouse rose from beside our path ; Clarke's 
crows flew past us, with a hollow, flapping sound, 
or lit in the pine-tops, calling and flirting their 
tails; the gray-clad whisky-jacks, with multi- 
tudinous cries, hopped and fluttered near us. 
Snow-shoe rabbits scuttled away, the big furry 
feet which give them their name already turning 
white. At last we came out on the great plateau, 
seamed with deep, narrow ravines. Reaches of 
pasture alternated with groves and open forests 
of varying size. Almost immediately we heard 
the bugle of a bull elk, and saw a big band of 
cows and calves on the other side of a valley. 
There were three bulls with them, one very large, 
and we tried to creep up on them ; but the wind 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 225 

was baffling and spoiled our stalk. So we re- 
turned to our horses, mounted them, and rode a 
mile farther, toward a large open wood on a hill- 
side. When within two hundred yards we heard 
directly ahead the bugle of a bull, and pulled up 
short. In a moment I saw him walking through 
an open glade; he had not seen us. The slight 
breeze brought us down his scent. Elk have a 
strong characteristic smell; it is usually sweet, 
like that of a herd of Aldemey cows; but in old 
bulls, while rutting, it is rank, pimgent, and 
lasting. We stood motionless till the bull was 
out of sight, then stole to the wood, tied our 
horses, and trotted after him. He was travelling 
fast, occasionally calling; whereupon others in 
the neighborhood would answer. Evidently he 
had been driven out of some herd by the master 
bull. 

He went faster than we did, and while we were 
vainly trying to overtake him we heard another 
very loud and sonorous challenge to our left. It 
came from a ridge-crest at the edge of the woods, 
among some scattered clumps of the northern 
nut-pine or pinyon — a queer conifer, growing very 
high on the mountains, its multiforked trunk and 
wide-spreading branches giving it the rounded 
top, and, at a distance, the general look of an 
oak rather than a pine. We at once walked 
toward the ridge, up-wind. In a minute or two, 

VOL. I. — 15. 



226 The Wilderness Hunter 

to our chagrin, we stumbled on an out-lying 
spike bull, evidently kept on the out-skirts of the 
herd by the master bull. I thought he would 
alarm all the rest; but, as we stood motionless, 
he could not see clearly what we were. He 
stood, ran, stood again, gazed at us, and trotted 
slowly off. We hurried forward as fast as we 
dared, and with too little care; for we suddenly 
came in view of two cows. As they raised their 
heads to look, Woody squatted down where he 
was, to keep their attention fixed, while I cau- 
tiously tried to slip off to one side unobserved. 
Favored by the neutral tint of my buckskin 
hunting-shirt, with which my shoes, leggins, and 
soft hat matched, I succeeded. As soon as I 
was out of sight I ran hard and came up to a 
hillock crested with pinyons, behind which I 
judged I should find the herd. As I approached 
the crest, their strong, sweet smell smote my 
nostrils. In another moment I saw the tips of a 
pair of mighty antlers, and I peered over the 
crest with my rifle at the ready. Thirty yards off, 
behind a clump of pinyons, stood a huge bull, his 
head thrown back as he rubbed his shoulders 
with his horns. There were several cows around 
him, and one saw me immediately, and took 
alarm. I fired into the bull's shoulder, inflicting 
a mortal wound; but he went off, and I raced 
after him at top speed, firing twice into his flank: 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 227 

then he stopped, very sick, and I broke his neck 
with a fourth bullet. An elk often hesitates in 
the first moments of surprise and fright, and 
does not get really under way for two or three 
hundred yards; but, when once fairly started, 
he may go several miles, even though mortally 
wounded; therefore, the hunter, after his first 
shot, should run forward as fast as he can, and 
shoot again and again until the quarry drops. 
In this way many animals that would be other- 
wise lost are obtained, especially by the man who 
has a repeating-rifle. Nevertheless, the hunter 
should beware of being led astray by the ease 
with which he can fire half a dozen shots from 
his repeater; and he should aim as carefully with 
each shot as if it were his last. No possible 
rapidity of fire can atone for habitual careless- 
ness of aim with the first shot. 

The elk I thus slew was a giant. His body 
was the size of a steer's, and his antlers, though 
not -unusually long, were very massive and heavy. 
He lay in a glade, on the edge of a great cliff. 
Standing on its brink we overlooked a most 
beautiful country, the home of all homes for the 
elk: a -wilderness of mountains, the immense 
evergreen forest broken by park and glade, by 
meadow and pasture, by bare hillside and barren 
table-land. Some five miles off lay the sheet of 
water known to the old hunters as Spotted Lake ; 



228 The Wilderness Hunter 

two or three shallow, sedgy places, and spots of 
geyser formation, made pale green blotches on 
its wind-rippled surface. Far to the southwest, 
in daring beauty and majesty, the grand domes 
and lofty spires of the Tetons shot into the blue 
sky. Too sheer for the snow to rest on their 
sides, it yet filled the rents in their rough flanks, 
and lay deep between the towering pinnacles of 
dark rock. 

That night, as on more than one night after- 
ward, a bull elk came down whistling to within 
two or three hundred yards of the tents, and 
tried to join the horse-herd. The moon had set, 
so I could not go after it. Elk are very restless 
and active throughout the night in the rutting 
season; but where undisturbed they feed freely 
in the daytime, resting for two or three hours 
about noon. 

Next day, which was rainy, we spent in getting 
in the antlers and meat of the two dead elk ; and 
I shot off the heads of two or three blue grouse on 
the way home. The following day I killed an- 
other bull elk, following him by the strong, not 
unpleasing, smell, and hitting him twice as he 
ran, at about eighty yards. So far I had had 
good luck, killing everything I had shot at; but 
now the luck changed, through no fault of mine, 
as far as I could see, and Ferguson had his in- 
nings. The day after I killed this bull he shot 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 229 

two fine mountain rams ; and during the remain- 
der of our hunt he killed five elk — one cow, for 
meat, and four good bulls. The two rams were 
with three others, all old and with fine horns; 
Ferguson peeped over a lofty precipice and saw 
them coming up it only fifty yards below him. 
His two first and finest bulls were obtained by 
hard running and good shooting; the herds were 
on the move at the time, and only his speed of 
foot and soundness of wind enabled him to get 
near enough for a shot. One herd started before 
he got close, and he killed the master bull by a 
shot right through the heart, as it trotted past, 
a hundred and fifty yards distant. 

As for me, during the next ten days I killed 
nothing save one cow for meat ; and this though 
I hunted hard every day from morning till night, 
no matter what the weather. It was stormy, with 
hail and snow every day almost ; and after work- 
ing hard from dawn until nightfall, laboriously 
climbing the slippery mountain-sides, walking 
through the wet woods, and struggling across 
the bare plateaus and cliff -shoulders, while the 
violent blasts of wind drove the frozen rain in 
our faces, we would come in after dusk wet 
through and chilled to the marrow. Even when 
it rained in the valleys it snowed on the moun- 
tain-tops, and there was no use trying to keep our 
feet dry. I got three shots at bull elk, two being 



230 The Wilderness Hunter 

very hurried snap-shots at animals running in 
thick timber, the other a running-shot in the open, 
at over two hundred yards; and I missed all 
three. On most days I saw no bull worth shoot- 
ing ; the two or three I did see or hear we failed 
to stalk, the light, shifty wind baffling us, or else 
an outlying cow which we had not seen giving 
the alarm. There were many blue and a few 
ruffed grouse in the woods, and I occasionally 
shot off the heads of a couple on my way home- 
ward in the evening. In racing after one elk, I 
leaped across a gully and so bruised and twisted 
my heel on a rock that, for the remainder of my 
stay in the mountains, I had to walk on the fore 
part of that foot. This did not interfere much 
with my walking, however, except in going down 
hill. 

Our ill success was in part due to sheer bad 
luck; but the chief element therein was the pres- 
ence of a great hunting-party of Shoshone In- 
dians. Split into bands of eight or ten each, 
they scoured the whole country on their tough, 
sure-footed ponies. They always hunted on 
horseback, and followed the elk at full speed 
wherever they went. Their method of hunting 
was to organize great drives, the riders strung in 
lines far apart ; they signalled to one another by 
means of willow whistles, with which they also 
imitated the calling of the bull elk, thus tolling 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 231 

the animals to them, or making them betray 
their whereabouts. As they slew whatever they 
could, but by preference cows and calves, and as 
they were very persevering, but also very excit- 
able and generally poor shots, so that they wasted 
much powder, they not only wrought havoc 
among the elk, but also scared the survivors out 
of all the country over which they hunted. 

Day in and day out we plodded on. In a 
himting trip the days of long monotony in getting 
to the ground, and the days of unrequited toil 
after it has been reached, always far outnumber 
the red-letter days of success. But it is just 
these times of failure that really test the hunter. 
In the long run, common sense and dogged perse- 
verence avail him more than any other qualities. 
The man who does not give up, but hunts steadily 
and resolutely through the spells of bad luck un- 
till the luck turns, is the man who wins success 
in the end. 

After a week at Two-Ocean Pass, we gathered 
our pack-animals one frosty m^oming, and again 
set off across the mountains. A two days' jaunt 
took us to the summit of Wolverine Pass, near 
Pinyon Peak, beside a little mountain tarn ; each 
morning we found its surface skimmed with black 
ice, for the nights were cold. After three or four 
days, we shifted camp to the mouth of Wolverine 
Creek, to get off the hunting-grounds of the In- 



232 The Wilderness Hunter 

dians. We had used up our last elk-meat that 
morning, and when we were within a couple of 
hours' journey of our intended halting-place, 
Woody and I struck off on foot for a hunt. Just 
before sunset we came on three or four elk; a 
spike bull stood for a moment behind some thick 
evergreens a hundred yards off. Guessing at his 
shoulder, I fired, and he fell dead after running 
a few rods, I had broken the luck, after ten 
days of ill success. 

Next morning Woody and I, with the packer, 
rode to where this elk lay. We loaded the meat 
on a pack-horse, and let the packer take both 
the loaded animal and our own saddle-horses 
back to camp, while we made a hunt on foot. 
We went up the steep, forest-clad mountain-side, 
and before we had walked an hour heard two elk 
whistling ahead of us. The woods were open, 
and quite free from undergrowth, and we were 
able to advance noiselessly; there was no wind, 
for the weather was still, clear, and cold. Both 
of the elk were evidently very much excited, an- 
swering each other continually ; they had probably 
been master bulls, but had become so exhausted 
that their rivals had driven them from the herds, 
forcing them to remain in seclusion until they re- 
gained their lost strength. As we crept stealthily 
forward, the calling grew louder and louder, 
until we could hear the grunting sounds with 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 233 

which the challenge of the nearest ended. He 
was in a large wallow, which was also a lick. 
When we were still sixty yards ofiE, he heard us, 
and rushed out, but wheeled and stood a moment 
to gaze, puzzled by my buckskin suit. I fired 
into his throat, breaking his neck, and down he 
went in a heap. Rushing in and turning, I called 
to Woody, ''He's a twelve-pointer, but the horns 
are small!" As I spoke I heard the roar of the 
challenge of the other bull not two hundred yards 
ahead, as if in defiant answer to my shot. 

Running quietly forward, I speedily caught a 
glimpse of his body. He was behind some fir- 
trees about seventy yards off, and I could not 
see which way he was standing, and so fired into 
the patch of flank which was visible, aiming high, 
to break the back. My aim was true, and the 
huge beast crashed down-hill through the ever- 
greens, pulling himself on his fore legs for fifteen 
or twenty rods, his hind quarters trailing. Rac- 
ing forward, I broke his neck. His antlers were 
the finest I ever got. A couple of whisky- jacks 
appeared at the first crack of the rifle with their 
customary astonishing familiarity and heedless- 
ness of the hunter; they followed the wounded 
bull as he dragged his great carcass down the 
hill, and pounced with ghoulish bloodthirstiness 
on the gouts of blood that were sprinkled over 
the green herbage. 



234 The Wilderness Hunter 

These two bulls lay only a couple of hundred 
yards apart, on a broad game trail, which was as 
well beaten as a good bridle-path. We began to 
skin out the heads; and as we were finishing we 
heard another bull challenging far up the moun- 
tain. He came nearer and nearer, and as soon 
as we had ended our work we grasped our rifles 
and trotted toward him along the game trail. 
He was very noisy, uttering his loud, singing 
challenge every minute or two. The trail was 
so broad and firm that we walked in perfect 
silence. After going only five or six hundred 
yards, we got very close indeed, and stole for- 
ward on tip-toe, listening to the roaring music. 
The sound came from a steep narrow ravine, to 
one side of the trail, and I walked toward it with 
my rifle at the ready. A slight puff gave the elk 
my wind, and he dashed out of the ravine like a 
deer; but he was only thirty yards off, and my 
bullet went into his shoulder as he passed behind 
a clump of young spruce. I plunged into the 
ravine, scrambled out of it, and raced after him. 
In a minute I saw him standing with drooping 
head, and two more shots finished him. He also 
bore fine antlers. It was a great piece of luck 
to get three such fine bulls at the cost of half a 
day's light work; but we had fairly earned thern, 
having worked hard for ten days, through rain, 
cold, hunger, and fatigue, to no purpose. That 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 235 

evening my home-coming to camp, with three 
elk-tongues and a brace of ruffed grouse hung at 
my belt, was most happy. 

Next day it snowed, but we brought a pack- 
pony to where the three great bulls lay, and took 
their heads to camp ; the flesh was far too strong 
to be worth taking, for it was just the height of 
the rut. 

This was the end of my hunt ; and a day later 
Hofer and I, with two pack-ponies, made a rapid 
push for the Upper Geyser Basin. We travelled 
fast. The first day was gray and overcast, a cold 
wind blowing strongly in our faces. Toward eve- 
ning we came on a bull elk in a willow thicket ; he 
was on his knees in a hollow, thrashing and beat- 
ing the willows with his antlers. At dusk we 
halted and went into camp, by some small pools 
on the summit of the pass north of Red Mountain. 
The elk were calling all around us. We pitched 
our cozy tent, dragged great stumps for the fire, 
cut evergreen boughs for our beds, watered the 
horses, tethered them to improvised picket-pins 
in a grassy glade, and then set about getting sup- 
per ready. The wind had gone down, and snow 
was falling thick in large, soft flakes; we were 
evidently at the beginning of a heavy snowstorm. 
All night we slept soundly in our snug tent. When 
we arose at dawn there was a foot and a half of 
snow on the ground, and the flakes were falling as 



236 The Wilderness Hunter 

fast as ever. There is no more tedious work than 
striking camp in bad weather ; and it was over two 
hours from the time we rose to the time we started. 
It is sheer misery to untangle picket-lines and to 
pack animals when the ropes are frozen; and by 
the time we had loaded the two shivering, wincing 
pack-ponies, and had bridled and saddled our own 
riding-animals, our hands and feet were numb and 
stiff with cold, though we were really hampered 
by our warm clothing. My horse was a wild, ner- 
vous roan, and as I swung carelessly into the sad- 
dle, he suddenly began to buck before I got my 
right leg over, and threw me off. My thumb was 
put out of joint. I pulled it in again, and speedily 
caught my horse in the dead timber. Then I 
treated him as what the cowboys call a ''mean 
horse," and mounted him carefully, so as not to 
let him either buck or go over backward. How- 
ever, his preliminary success had inspirited him, 
and a dozen times that day he began to buck, 
usually choosing a down grade, where the snow 
was deep, and there was much fallen timber. 

All day long we pushed steadily through the 
cold, blinding snowstorm. Neither squirrels nor 
rabbits were abroad; and a few Clarke's crows, 
whisky-jacks, and chickadees were the only living 
things we saw. At nightfall, chilled through, we 
reached the Upper Geyser Basin. Here I met a 
party of railroad surveyors and engineers, coming 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 237 

in from their summer's field-work. One of them 
lent me a saddle-horse and a pack-pony, and we 
went on together, breaking our way through the 
snow-choked roads to the Mammoth Hot Springs, 
while Hofer took my own horses back to Ferguson. 
I have described this hunt at length because, 
though I enjoyed it particularly on accoimt of the 
comfort in which we travelled and the beauty 
of the land, yet, in point of success in finding 
and killing game, in value of trophies procured, 
and in its alternations of good and bad luck, 
it may fairly stand as the type of a dozen such 
hunts I have made. Twice I have been much 
more successful; the difference being due to 
sheer luck, as I hunted equally hard in all three 
instances. Thus on this trip I killed and saw 
nothing but elk; yet the other members of the 
party either saw, or saw fresh signs of, not only 
blacktail deer, but sheep, bear, bison, moose, 
cougar, and wolf. Now in 1889 I hunted over 
almost precisely similar country, only farther to 
the northwest, on the boundary between Idaho 
and Montana, and, with the exception of sheep, 
I stumbled on all the animals mentioned, and 
white-goat in addition, so that my bag of twelve 
head actually included eight species — much the 
best bag I ever made, and the only one that could 
really be called out of the common. In 1884, on a 
trip to the Bighorn Mountains, I killed three bear, 



238 The Wilderness Hunter 

six elk, and six deer. In laying in the winter stock 
of meat for my ranch I often far excelled these 
figures as far as mere numbers went ; but on no 
other regular hunting trip, where the quality and 
not the quantity of the game was the prime con- 
sideration, have I ever equalled them; and on 
several where I worked hardest I hardly averaged 
a head a week. The occasional days or weeks of 
phenomenal luck are more than earned by the 
many others where no luck whatever follows the 
very hardest work. Yet, if a man hunts with 
steady resolution, he is apt to strike enough lucky 
days amply to repay him. 

On this Shoshone trip I fired fifty-eight shots. 
In preference to using the knife I generally break 
the neck of an elk which is still struggling ; and I 
fire at one as long as it can stand, preferring to 
waste a few extra bullets, rather than see an occa- 
sional head of game escape. In consequence of 
these two traits the nine elk I got (two running at 
sixty and eighty yards, the others standing, at 
from thirty to a hundred) cost me twenty-three 
bullets; and I missed three shots — all three, it is 
but fair to say, difficult ones. I also cut off the 
heads of seventeen grouse, with twenty-two shots ; 
and killed two ducks with ten shots — fifty-eight in 
all. On the Bighorn trip I used a hundred and 
two cartridges. On no other trip did I use fifty. 

To me, still-hunting elk in the mountains, when 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass 239 

they are calling, is one of the most attractive of 
sports, not only because of the size and stately 
beauty of the quarry and the grand nature of the 
trophy, but because of the magnificence of the 
scenery, and the stirring, manly, exciting nature 
of the chase itself. It yields more vigorous enjoy- 
ment than does lurking stealthily through the 
grand but gloomy monotony of the marshy wood- 
land where dwells the moose. The climbing 
among the steep forest-clad and glade-strewn 
motmtains is just difficult enough thoroughly to 
test soundness in wind and limb, while without 
the heart-breaking fatigue of white-goat hunting. 
The actual grapple with an angry grisly is of course 
far more full of strong, eager pleasure; but bear- 
hunting is the most uncertain, and usually the 
least productive, of sports. 

As regards strenuous, vigorous work, and pleas- 
urable excitement, the chase of the bighorn alone 
stands higher. But the bighorn, grand beast of 
the chase though he be, is surpassed in size, both 
of body and of horns, by certain of the giant sheep 
of Central Asia; whereas the wapiti is not only 
the most stately and beautiful of American game 
— far more so than the bison and moose, his only 
rivals in size — but is also the noblest of the stag 
kind throughout the world. Whoever kills him 
has killed the chief of his race ; for he stands far 
above his brethren of Asia and Europe. 



CHAPTER XI 
THE moose; the beast of the woodland 

THE raoose is the giant of all deer ; and many 
hunters esteem it the noblest of American 
game. Beyond question, there are few 
trophies more prized than the huge shovel horns 
of this strange dweller in the cold northland forests. 

I shot my first moose '\fter making several fruit- 
less hunting trips with this special game in view. 
The season I finally succeeded, it was only after 
having hunted two or three weeks in vain among 
the Bitter Root Mountains and the ranges lying 
southeast of them. 

I began about the first of September by making 
a trial with my old hunting friend, Willis. We 
speedily found a country where there were moose, 
but of the animals themselves we never caught a 
glimpse. We tried to kill them by hunting in the 
same manner that we hunted elk; that is, by 
choosing a place where there was sign, and going 
carefully through it against or across the wind. 
However, this plan failed; though at that very 
time we succeeded in killing elk in this way, de- 
voting one or two days to their pursuit. There 

240 



The Moose 241 

were both elk and moose in the country, but they 
were usually found in different kinds of ground, 
though often close alongside one another. The 
former went in herds, the cows, calves, and year- 
lings by themselves, and they roamed through the 
higher and more open forests, well up towards 
timber line. The moose, on the contrary, were 
found singly or in small parties, composed, at the 
outside, of a bull, a cow, and her young of two 
years ; for the moose is practically monogamous, 
in strong contrast to the highly polygamous wapiti 
and caribou. 

The moose did not seem to care much whether 
they lived among the summits of the mountains 
or not, so long as they got the right kind of coimtry ; 
for they were much more local in their distribution, 
and at this season less given to wandering than 
their kin with round horns. What they wished 
was a cool, swampy region of very dense growth; 
in the main chains of the northern Rockies even 
the valleys are high enough to be cold. Of course 
many of the moose lived on the wooded summits 
of the lower ranges ; and most of them came down 
lower in winter than in summer, following about 
a fortnight after the elk ; but if in a large tract of 
woods the cover was dense and the ground marshy, 
though it was in a valley no higher than the herds 
of the ranchmen grazed, or perchance even in 
the immediate neighborhood of a small frontier 

VOL. I. — 16. 



242 The Wilderness Hunter 

hamlet, then it might be chosen by some old bull 
who wished to lie in seclusion till his horns were 
grown, or by some cow with a calf to raise. Before 
settlers came to this high mountain region of west- 
em Montana, a moose would often thus live in an 
isolated marshy tract surrounded by open country. 
They grazed throughout the summer on marsh 
plants, notably lily stems, and nibbled at the tops 
of the very tall natural hay of the meadows. The 
legs of the beast are too long and the neck too 
short to allow it to graze habitually on short 
grass ; yet in the early spring, when greedy for the 
tender blades of young, green marsh grass, the 
moose will often shuffle down on its knees to get 
at them, and it will occasionally perform the same 
feat to get a mouthful or two of snow in winter. 

The moose which lived in isolated, exposed lo- 
calities were speedily killed or driven away after 
the incoming of settlers ; and at the time that we 
hunted we found no sign of them until we reached 
the region of continuous forest. Here, in a fort- 
night's hunting, we found as much sign as we 
wished, and plenty of it fresh; but the animals 
themselves we not only never saw, but we never 
so much as heard. Often after hours of careful 
still-hunting or cautious tracking, we found the 
footprints deep in the soft earth, showing where 
our quarry had winded or heard us, and had noise- 
lessly slipped away from the danger. It is aston- 



The Moose 243 

ishing how quietly a moose can steal through the 
woods if it wishes : and it has what is to the hun- 
ter a very provoking habit of making a half or 
three quarters circle before lying down, and then 
crouching with its head so turned that it can surely 
perceive any pursuer who may follow its trail. We 
tried every method to outwit the beasts. We at- 
tempted to track them; we beat through likely 
spots; sometimes we merely ''sat on a log" and 
awaited events, by a drinking hole, meadow, mud 
wallow, or other such place (a course of procedure 
which often works well in still-hunting) ; but all 
in vain. 

Our main difficulty lay in the character of the 
woods which the moose haunted. They were 
choked and tangled to the last degree, consisting 
of a mass of thick-growing conifers, with dead 
timber strewn in every direction, and young 
growth filling the spaces between the trunks. We 
could not see twenty yards ahead of us, and it was 
almost impossible to walk without making a 
noise. Elk were occasionally found in these same 
places; but usually they frequented more open 
timber, where the hunting was beyond comparison 
easier. Perhaps more experienced hunters would 
have killed their game ; though in such cover the 
best tracker and still-hunter alive cannot always 
reckon on success with really wary animals. But 
be this as it may, we, at any rate, were completely 



244 The Wilderness Hunter 

baffled, and I began to think that this moose-hunt, 
like all my former ones, was doomed to end in 
failure. 

However, a few days later I met a crabbed old 
trapper named Hank Griffin, who was going after 
beaver in the mountains, and who told me that if 
I would come with him he would show me moose. 
I jumped at the chance, and he proved as good as 
his word; though for the first two trials my ill 
luck did not change. 

At the time that it finally did change we had at 
last reached a place where the moose were on fa- 
vorable ground. A high, marshy valley stretched 
for several miles between two rows of stony moun- 
tains, clad with a forest of rather small fir-trees. 
This valley was covered with reeds, alders, and 
rank grass, and studded with little willow-bor- 
dered ponds and island-like clumps of spruce and 
graceful tamaracks. 

Having surveyed the ground and found moose 
sign the preceding afternoon, we were up betimes 
in the cool morning to begin our hunt. Before 
sunrise we were posted on a rocky spur of the foot- 
hills, behind a mask of evergreens ; ourselves un- 
seen, we overlooked all the valley, and we knew we 
could see any animal which might be either feed- 
ing away from cover or on its journey homeward 
from its feeding-ground to its day-bed. 

As it grew lighter we scanned the valley with 



The Moose 245 

increasing care and eagerness. The sun rose be- 
hind us ; and almost as soon as it was up we made 
out some large beast moving among the dwarf 
willows beside a little lake half a mile in our front. 
In a few minutes the thing walked out where the 
bushes were thinner, and we saw that it was a 
young bull moose browsing on the willow tops. 
He had evidently nearly finished his breakfast, 
and he stood idly for some moments, now and 
then lazily cropping a mouthful of twig tips. Then 
he walked off with great strides in a straight line 
across the marsh, splashing among the wet water- 
plants, and ploughing through boggy spaces with 
the indifference begotten of vast strength and legs 
longer than those of any other animal on this con- 
tinent. At times he entered beds of reeds which 
hid him from view, though their surging and bend- 
ing showed the wake of his passage; at other 
times he walked through meadows of tall grass, 
the withered yellow stalks rising to his flanks, 
while his body loomed above them, glistening 
black and wet in the level sunbeams. Once he 
stopped for a few moments on a rise of dry ground, 
seemingly to enjoy the heat of the young sun ; he 
stood motionless, save that his ears were continu- 
ally pricked, and his head sometimes slightly 
turned, showing that even in this remote land he 
was on the alert. Once, with a somewhat awk- 
ward motion, he reached his hind leg forward 



246 The Wilderness Hunter 

to scratch his neck. Then he walked forward 
again into the marsh ; where the water was quite 
deep, he broke into the long, stretching, springy 
trot, which forms the characteristic gait of his 
kind, churning the marsh water into foam. He 
held his head straight forwards, the antlers resting 
on his shoulders. 

After a while he reached a spruce island, through 
which he walked to and fro ; but evidently could 
find therein no resting-place quite to his mind, for 
he soon left and went on to another. Here after a 
little wandering he chose a point where there was 
some thick young growth, which hid him from 
view when he lay down, though not when he stood. 
After some turning he settled himself in his bed 
just as a steer would. 

He could not have chosen a spot better suited 
for us. He was nearly at the edge of the morass, 
the open space between the spruce clump where 
he was lying and the rocky foothills being com- 
paratively dry and not much over a couple of hun- 
dred yards broad ; while some sixty yards from it, 
and between it and the hills, was a httle hum- 
mock, tufted with firs, so as to afford us just the 
cover we needed. Keeping back from the edge of 
the morass we were able to walk upright through 
the forest, until we got to the point where he was 
lying in a line with this little hummock. We then 
dropped on our hands and knees, and crept over 



The Moose 247 

the soft, wet sward, where there w^as nothing to 
make a noise. Wherever the ground rose at all we 
crawled flat on our bellies. The air was still, for it 
was a very calm morning. 

At last we reached the hummock, and I got into 
position for a shot, taking a final look at my faith- 
ful 45-90 Winchester to see that all was in order. 
Peering cautiously through the shielding ever- 
greens, I at first could not make out where the 
moose was lying, until my eye was caught by the 
motion of his big ears, as he occasionally flapped 
them lazily forward. Even then I could not see 
his outline ; but I knew where he was, and having 
pushed my rifle forward on the moss, I snapped a 
dry twig to make him rise. My veins were thrill- 
ing, and my heart beat with that eager, fierce ex- 
citement known only to the hunter of big game, 
and forming one of the keenest and strongest of the 
many pleasures which with him go to make up 
"the wild joy of living." 

As the sound of the snapping twig smote his 
ears the moose rose nimbly to his feet, with a 
lightness on which one would not have reckoned 
in a beast so heavy of body. He stood broadside 
to me for a moment, his ungainly head slightly 
turned, while his ears twitched and his nostrils 
snuffed the air. Drawing a fine bead against his 
black hide, behind his shoulder and two thirds 
of his body's depth below his shaggy withers. 



248 The Wilderness Hunter 

I pressed the trigger. He neither flinched nor 
reeled, but started with his regular ground-cover- 
ing trot through the spruces ; yet I knew he was 
mine, for the light blood sprang from both of his 
nostrils, and he fell dying on his side before he had 
gone thirty rods. 

Later in the fall I was again hunting among the 
lofty ranges which continue towards the south- 
east the chain of the Bitter Root, between Idaho 
and Montana. There were but two of us, and we 
were travelling very light, each having but one 
pack-pony and the saddle animal he bestrode. We 
were high among the mountains, and followed 
no regular trail. Hence our course was often one 
of extreme difficulty. Occasionally, we took our 
animals through the forest near timber line, where 
the slopes were not too steep ; again we threaded 
our way through a line of glades, or skirted the 
foothills, in an open, park country; and now and 
then we had to cross stretches of tangled mountain 
forest, making but a few miles a day, at the cost 
of incredible toil, and accomplishing even this 
solely by virtue of the wonderful docility and sure- 
footedness of the ponies, and of my companion's 
skill with the axe and thorough knowledge of 
woodcraft. 

Late one cold afternoon we came out in a high 
alpine valley in which there was no sign of any 
man's having ever been before us. Down its mid- 



The Moose 249 

die ran a clear brook. On each side was a belt of 
thick spruce forest, covering the lower flanks of 
the mountains. The trees came down in points 
and isolated clumps to the brook, the banks of 
which were thus bordered with open glades, ren- 
dering the travelling easy and rapid. 

Soon after starting up this valley we entered a 
beaver-meadow of considerable size. It was cov- 
ered with lush, rank grass, and the stream wound 
through it rather sluggishly in long curves, which 
were fringed by a thick growth of dwarfed willows. 
In one or two places it broadened into small ponds, 
bearing a few lily-pads. This meadow had been 
all tramped up by moose. Trails led hither and 
thither through the grass, the willow twigs were 
cropped off, and the muddy banks of the little 
black ponds were indented by hoof -marks. Evi- 
dently most of the lilies had been plucked. The 
footprints were unmistakable; a moose's foot is 
longer and slimmer than a caribou's, while on the 
other hand it is much larger than an elk's, and a 
longer oval in shape. 

Most of the sign was old, this high alpine mea- 
dow, surrounded by snow mountains, having 
clearly been a favorite resort for moose in the 
summer; but some enormous, fresh tracks told 
that one or more old bulls were still frequenting 
the place. 

The light was already fading, and, of course, 



250 The Wilderness Hunter 

we did not wish to camp where we were, because 
we would then certainly scare the moose. Ac- 
cordingly we pushed up the valley for another 
mile, through an open forest, the ground being 
quite free from underbrush and dead timber, and 
covered with a carpet of thick moss, in which the 
feet sank noiselessly. Then we came to another 
beaver-meadow, which offered fine feed for the 
ponies. On its edge we hastily pitched camp, just 
at dusk. We tossed down the packs in a dry 
grove, close to the brook, and turned the tired 
ponies loose in the meadow, hobbling the little 
mare that carried the bell. The ground was 
smooth. We threw a cross-pole from one to the 
other of two young spruces, which happened to 
stand handily, and from it stretched and pegged 
out a piece of canvas, which we were using as a 
shelter tent. Beneath this we spread our bedding, 
laying under it the canvas sheets in which it had 
been wrapped. There was still bread left over 
from yesterday's baking, and in a few moments 
the kettle was boiling and the frying-pan sizzHng, 
while one of us skinned and cut into suitable pieces 
two grouse we had knocked over on our march. 
For fear of frightening the moose we built but a 
small fire, and went to bed soon after supper, 
being both tired and cold. Fortunately, what little 
breeze there was blew up the valley. 

At dawn I was awake, and crawled out of my 



The Moose 251 

buffalo bag, shivering and yawning. My com- 
panion still slumbered heavily. White frost cov- 
ered whatever had been left outside. The cold 
was sharp, and I hurriedly slipped a pair of stout 
moccasins on my feet, drew on my gloves and cap, 
and started through the ghostly woods for the 
meadow where we had seen the moose sign. The 
tufts of grass were stiff with frost; black ice 
skimmed the edges and quiet places of the little 
brook. 

I walked slowly, it being difficult not to make a 
noise by cracking sticks or brushing against trees 
in the gloom; but the forest was so open that it 
favored me. When I reached the edge of the 
beaver-meadow it was light enough to shoot, 
though the front sight still glimmered indistinctly. 
Streaks of cold red showed that the sun would 
soon rise. 

Before leaving the shelter of the last spruces I 
halted to listen ; and almost immediately heard a 
curious splashing sound from the middle of the 
meadow, where the brook broadened into small 
willow-bordered pools. I knew at once that a 
moose was in one of these pools, wading about and 
pulling up the water-lilies by seizing their slippery 
stems in his lips, plunging his head deep under 
water to do so. The moose love to feed in this 
way in the hot months, when they spend all the 
time they can in the water, feeding or lying down ; 



252 The Wilderness Hunter 

nor do they altogether abandon the habit even 
when the weather is so cold that icicles form in 
their shaggy coats. 

Crouching, I stole noiselessly along the edge of 
the willow thicket. The stream twisted through 
it from side to side in zigzags, so that every few 
rods I got a glimpse down a lane of black water. 
In a minute I heard a slight splashing near me; 
and on passing the next point of bushes I saw the 
shadowy outlines of the moose's hindquarters, 
standing in a bend of the water. In a moment 
he walked onwards, disappearing. I ran forward 
a couple of rods, and then turned in among the 
willows, to reach the brook where it again bent 
back towards me. The splashing in the water, 
and the rustling of the moose's body against the 
frozen twigs, drowned the little noise made by my 
moccasined feet. 

I strode out on the bank at the lower end of a 
long narrow pool of water, dark and half frozen. 
In this pool, half way down and facing me, but a 
score of yards off, stood the mighty marsh beast, 
strange and uncouth in look as some monster sur- 
viving over from the Pliocene. His vast bulk 
loomed black and vague in the dim gray dawn; 
his huge antlers stood out sharply; columns of 
steam rose from his nostrils. For several seconds 
he fronted me motionless ; then he began to turn, 
slowly, and as if he had a stiff neck. When quarter 



The Moose 253 

way round I fired into his shoulder; whereat he 
reared and bounded on the bank with a great leap, 
vanishing in the willows. Through these I heard 
him crash like a whirlwind for a dozen rods ; then 
down he fell, and when I reached the spot he had 
ceased to struggle. The ball had gone through his 
heart. 

When a moose is thus surprised at close quar- 
ters, it will often stand at gaze for a moment or two, 
and then turn stiffly around until headed in the 
right direction ; once thus headed aright it starts 
off with extraordinary speed. 

The flesh of the moose is very good; though 
some deem it coarse. Old hunters, who always 
like rich, greasy food, rank a moose's nose with a 
beaver's tail as the chief of backwood delicacies; 
personally, I never liked either. The hide of the 
moose, like the hide of the elk, is of very poor 
quality, much inferior to ordinary buckskin; 
caribou hide is the best of all, especially when 
used as webbing for snow-shoes. 

The moose is very fond of frequenting swampy 
woods throughout the stimmer, and indeed late 
into the fall. These swampy woods are not neces- 
sarily in the lower valleys, some being found very 
high among the mountains. By preference, it 
haunts those containing lakes, where it can find 
the long lily-roots of which it is so fond, and where 
it can escape the torment of the mosquitoes and 



254 The Wilderness Hunter 

deer-flies by lying completely submerged save for 
its nostrils. It is a bold and good swimmer, 
readily crossing lakes of large size; but it is of 
course easily slain if discovered by canoe-men 
while in the water. It travels well through bogs, 
but not as well as the caribou ; and it will not ven- 
ture on ice at all if it can possibly avoid it. 

After the rut begins the animals roam every- 
where through the woods; and where there are 
hardwood forests the winter-yard is usually made 
among them, on high ground, away from the, 
swamps. In the mountains the deep snows drive 
the moose, like all other game, down to the lower 
valleys, in hard winters. In the summer it occa- 
sionally climbs to the very summits of the wooded 
ranges, to escape the flies; and it is said that in 
certain places where wolves are plenty the cows 
retire to the tops of the mountains to calve. More 
often, however, they select some patch of very 
dense cover, in a swamp or by a lake, for this pur- 
pose. Their ways of life of course vary with the 
nature of the country they frequent. In the tow^er- 
ing chains of the Rockies, clad in som^bre and un- 
broken evergreen forests, their habits, in regard 
to winter and summer homes, and choice of places 
of seclusion for cows with young calves and bulls 
growing their antlers, differ from those of their 
kind which haunt the comparatively low, hilly, 
lake-studded country of Maine and Nova Scotia, 



The Moose 255 

where the forests are of birch, beech, and maple, 
mixed with the pine, spruce, and hemlock. 

The moose, being usually monogamous, is never 
found in great herds like the wapiti and caribou. 
Occasionally a troop of fifteen or twenty individ- 
uals may be seen, but this is rare ; more often it 
is found singly, in pairs, or in family parties, com- 
posed of a bull, a cow, and two or more calves and 
yearlings. In yarding, two or more such families 
may unite to spend the winter together in an un- 
usually attractive locality; and during the rut 
many bulls are sometimes found together, perhaps 
following the trail of a cow in single file. 

In the fall, winter, and early spring, and in cer- 
tain places during summer, the moose feeds prin- 
cipally by browsing, though always willing to 
vary its diet by mosses, lichens, fungi, and ferns. 
In the eastern forests, with their abundance of 
hardwood, the birch, maple, and moose-wood 
form its favorite food. In the Rocky Mountains, 
where the forests are almost purely evergreen, it 
feeds on such willows, alders, and aspens as it can 
fimd, and also, when pressed by necessity, on bal- 
sam, fir, spruce, and very young pine. It peels 
the bark between its hard palate and sharp lower 
teeth, to a height of seven or eight feet; these 
"peelings" form conspicuous moose signs. It 
crops the juicy, budding twigs and stem tops to 
the same height; and if the tree is too tall it 



256 The Wilderness Hunter 

"rides" it, that is, straddles the slender trunk 
with its fore legs, pushing it over and walking up 
it until the desired branches are within reach. No 
beast is more destructive to the young growth of 
a forest than the moose. Where much persecuted, 
it feeds in the late evening, early morning, and by 
moonlight. Where rarely disturbed, it passes the 
day much as cattle do, alternately resting and 
feeding for two or three hours at a time. 

Young moose, when caught, are easily tamed, 
and are very playful, delighting to gallop to and 
fro, kicking, striking, butting, and occasionally 
making grotesque faces. As they grow old they 
are apt to become dangerous, and even their play 
takes the form of a mock fight. Some lumbermen 
I knew on the Aroostook, in Maine, once captured 
a young moose, and put it in a pen of logs. A few 
days later they captured another, somewhat 
smaller, and put it in the same pen, thinking the 
first would be grateful at having a companion. 
But if it was it dissembled its feelings, for it 
promptly fell on the unfortunate newcomer and 
killed it before it could be rescued. 

During the rut the bulls seek the cows far and 
wide, uttering continually throughout the night a 
short, loud roar, which can be heard at a distance 
of four or five miles ; the cows now and then re- 
spond with low, plaintive bellows. The bulls also 
thrash the tree-trunks with their horns, and paw 



The Moose 257 

big holes in soft ground; and when two rivals 
come together at this season they fight with the 
most desperate fury. It is chiefly in these battles 
with one another that the huge antlers are used; 
in contending with other foes they strike terrible 
blows with their fore hoofs, and also sometimes 
lash out behind like a horse. The bear occasion- 
ally makes a prey of the moose ; the cougar is a 
more dangerous enemy in the few districts where 
both animals are found at all plentifully ; but next 
to man its most dreaded foe is the big timber wolf, 
that veritable scourge of all animals of the deer 
kind. Against all of these the moose defends it- 
self valiantly ; a cow with a calf and a rutting bull 
being especially dangerous opponents. In deep 
snows through which the great deer floimders 
while its adversary runs lightly on the crust, a 
single wolf may overcome and slaughter a big bull 
moose; but with a fair chance, no one or two 
wolves would be a match for it. Desperate com- 
bats take place before a small pack of wolves can 
master the shovel-homed quarry, unless it is taken 
at a hopeless disadvantage; and in these battles 
the prowess of the moose is shown by the fact that 
it is no unusual thing for it to kill one or more of 
the ravenous throng ; generally, by a terrific blow 
of the fore leg, smashing a wolf's skull or breaking 
its back. I have known of several instances of 
wolves being found dead, having perished in this 

VOL. I. — 17. 



258 The Wilderness Hunter 

manner. Still the battle usually ends the other 
way, the wolves being careful to make the attack 
with the odds in their favor; and even a small 
pack of the ferocious brutes will in a single winter 
often drive the moose completely out of a given 
district. Both cougar and bear generally reckon 
on taking the moose unawares, when they jump 
on it. In one case that came to my knowledge a 
black bear was killed by a cow moose whose calf 
he had attacked. 

In the northeast a favorite method of hunting 
the moose is by '' calling" the bulls in the rutting 
season, at dawn or nightfall ; the caller imitating 
their cries through a birch-bark trumpet. If the 
animals are at all wary, this kind of sport can 
only be carried on in still weather, as the approach- 
ing bull always tries to get the wind of the caller. 
It is also sometimes slain by fire-hunting, from a 
canoe, as the deer are killed in the Adirondacks. 
This, however, is but an ignoble sport ; and to kill 
the animal while it is swimming in a lake is worse. 
However, there is sometimes a spice of excitement 
even in these unworthy methods of the chase ; for 
a truculent moose will do its best, with hoofs and 
horns, to upset the boat. 

The true way to kill the noble beast, however, is 
by fair still-hunting. There is no grander sport 
than still-hunting the moose, whether in the vast 
pine and birch forests of the northeast, or among 



The Moose 259 

the stupendous mountain masses of the Rockies. 
The moose has wonderfully keen nose and ears, 
though its eyesight is not remarkable. Most hunt- 
ers assert that he is the wariest of all game, and 
the most difficult to kill. I have never been quite 
satisfied that this was so ; it seems to me that the 
nature of the ground wherein it dwells helps it 
even more than do its own sharp senses. It is true 
that I made many trips in vain before killing my 
first moose ; but then I had to hunt through tan- 
gled timber, where I could hardly move a step 
without noise, and could never see thirty yards 
ahead. If moose were found in open park-like 
forests, like those where I first killed elk, on the 
Bighorn Mountains, or among brushy coulies and 
bare hills, like the Little Missouri Bad Lands, 
where I first killed blacktail deer, I doubt whether 
they would prove especially difficult animals to 
bag. My own experience is much too limited to 
allow me to speak with any certainty on the 
point; but it is borne out by what more skilled 
hunters have told me. In the Big Hole Basin, in 
southwest Montana, moose were quite plentiful in 
the late 'seventies. Two or three of the old set- 
tlers, whom I know as veteran hunters and trust- 
worthy men, have told me that in those times the 
moose were often found in very accessible locali- 
ties ; and that when such was the case they were 
quite as easily killed as elk. In fact, when run 



26o The Wilderness Hunter 

across by accident they frequently showed a certain 
clumsy slowness of apprehension which amounted 
to downright stupidity. One of the most suc- 
cessful moose-hunters I know is Colonel Cecil 
Clay, of the Department of Law, in Washington ; 
he it was who killed the moose composing the fine 
group mounted by Mr. Hornaday, in the National 
Museum. Colonel Clay lost his right arm in the 
Civil War; but is an expert rifle shot nevertheless, 
using a short, light forty-four calibre old-style 
Winchester carbine. With this weapon he has 
killed over a score of moose, by fair still-hunting ; 
and he tells me that on similar ground he con- 
siders it if anything rather less easy to still-hunt 
and kill a whitetail deer than it is to kill a moose. 

My friend Colonel James Jones killed two moose 
in a day in northwestern Wyoming, not far from 
the Tetons ; he was alone when he shot them, and 
did not find them especially wary. Ordinarily, 
moose are shot at fairly close range ; but another 
friend of mine, Mr. E. P. Rogers, once dropped 
one with a single bullet at a distance of nearly 
three hundred yards. This happened by Bridger's 
Lake, near Two-Ocean Pass. 

The moose has a fast walk, and its ordinary gait 
when going at any speed is a slashing trot. Its long 
legs give it a wonderful stride, enabling it to clear 
down timber and high obstacles of all sorts with- 
out altering its pace. It also leaps well. If much 



The Moose 261 

pressed or startled it breaks into an awkward gal- 
lop, which is quite fast for a few hundred yards, 
but which speedily tires it out. After being dis- 
turbed by the hunter a moose usually trots a long 
distance before halting. 

One thing which renders the chase of the moose 
particularly interesting is the fact that there is in 
it on rare occasions a spice of peril. Under certain 
circumstances it may be called dangerous quarry, 
being, properly speaking, the only animal of the 
deer kind which ever fairly deserves the title. In 
a hand-to-hand grapple an elk or caribou, or even 
under exceptional circumstances a blacktail or a 
whitetail, may show itself an ugly antagonist ; and 
indeed a maddened elk may for a moment take the 
offensive; but the moose is the only one of the 
tribe with which this attitude is at all common. 
In bodily strength and capacity to do harm it sur- 
passes the elk ; and in temper it is far more savage 
and more apt to show fight when assailed by man ; 
exactly as the elk in these respects surpasses the 
common deer. Two hunters with whom I was 
well acquainted once wintered between the Wind 
River Mountains and the Three Tetons, many 
years ago, in the days of the buffalo. They lived 
on game, killing it on snow-shoes — for the most 
part wapiti and deer, but also bison, and one 
moose, though they saw others. The wapiti bulls 
kept their antlers two months longer than the 



262 The Wilderness Hunter 

moose; nevertheless, when chased they rarely 
made an effort to use them, while the hornless 
moose displayed far more pugnacity, and also ran 
better through the deep snow. The winter was 
very severe, the snows were heavy and the crusts 
hard ; so that the hunters had little trouble in over- 
taking their game, although — being old mountain- 
men, and not hide-hunters — they killed only what 
was needed. Of course, in such hunting they came 
very close to the harried game, usually after a 
chase of from twenty minutes to three hours. 
They found that the ordinary deer would scarcely 
charge under any circumstances ; that among the 
wapiti it was only now and then that individuals 
would turn upon their pursuers — though they 
sometimes charged boldly ; but that both the bison 
and especially the moose when worried and ap- 
proached too near, would often turn to bay and 
make charge after charge in the most resolute man- 
ner, so that they had to be approached with some 
caution. 

Under ordinary conditions, however, there is 
very little danger, indeed, of a moose charging. A 
charge does not take place once in a hundred times 
when the moose is killed by fair still-hunting ; and 
it is altogether exceptional for those who assail 
them from boats or canoes to be put in jeopardy. 
Even a cow moose, with her calf, will run if she 
has the chance; and a rutting bull will do the 



The Moose 263 

same. Such a bull when wounded may walk 
slowly forward, grunting savagely, stamping with 
his fore feet, and slashing the bushes with his 
antlers ; but, if his antagonist is any distance off, 
he rarely actually runs at him. Yet there are now 
and then found moose prone to attack on slight 
provocation ; for these great deer differ as widely 
as men in courage and ferocity. Occasionally a 
hunter is charged in the fall when he has lured the 
game to him by calling, or when he has wounded 
it after a stalk. In one well-authenticated in- 
stance which was brought to my attention, a settler 
on the left bank of the St. John's, in New Bruns- 
wick, was tramped to death by a bull moose which 
he had called to him and wounded. A New Yorker 
of my acquaintance. Dr. Merrill, was charged 
under rather peculiar circumstances. He stalked 
and mortally wounded a bull which promptly ran 
towards him. Between them was a gully in which 
it disappeared. Immediately afterwards, as he 
thought, it reappeared on his side of the gully, and 
with a second shot he dropped it. Walking for- 
ward, he found to his astonishment that with his 
second bullet he had killed a cow moose ; the bull 
lay dying in the gully, out of which he had scared 
the cow by his last rush. 

However, speaking broadly, the danger to the 
still-hunter engaged in one of the legitimate 
methods of the chase is so small that it may be 



264 The Wilderness Hunter 

disregarded ; for he usually kills his game at some 
little distance, while the moose, as a rule, only at- 
tacks if it has been greatly worried and angered, 
and if its pursuer is close at hand. When a moose 
is surprised and shot at by a hunter some way off, 
its one thought is of flight. Hence, the hunters 
who are charged by moose are generally those who 
follow them during the late winter and early spring, 
when the animals have yarded and can be killed 
on snow-shoes, — by "crusting," as it is termed, — 
a very destructive and often a very unsportsman- 
like species of chase. 

If the snowfall is very light, moose do not yard 
at all ; but in a hard winter they begin to make 
their yards in December. A ''yard" is not, as 
some people seem to suppose, a trampled-down 
space, with definite boundaries ; the term merely 
denotes the spot which a moose has chosen for its 
winter home, choosing it because it contains plenty 
of browse in the shape of young trees and saplings, 
and perhaps also because it is sheltered to some 
extent from the fiercest winds and heaviest snow- 
drifts. The animal travels to and fro across this 
space in straight lines and irregular circles after 
food, treading in its own footsteps, where practic- 
able. As the snow steadily deepens, these lines of 
travel become beaten paths. There results finally 
a space half a mile square — sometimes more, some- 
times very much less, according to the lay of the 



The Moose 265 

land, and the number of moose yarding together 
— where the deep snow is seamed in every direc- 
tion by a network of narrow paths along which a 
moose can travel at speed, its back level with the 
snow roimd about. Sometimes, when moose are 
very plenty, many of these yards lie so close to- 
gether that the beasts can readily make their way 
from one to another. When such is the case, the 
most expert snow-shoer, under the most favorable 
conditions, cannot overtake them, for they can 
then travel very fast through the paths, keeping 
their gait all day. In the early decades of the 
present century, the first settlers in Aroostook 
County, Maine, while moose-hunting in winter, 
were frequently baffled in this manner. 

When hunters approach an isolated yard the 
moose immediately leave it and run off through 
the snow. If there is no crust, and if their long 
legs can reach the ground, the snow itself impedes 
them but little, because of their vast strength and 
endurance. Snowdrifts, which render an ordinary 
deer absolutely helpless, and bring even an elk to 
a standstill, offer no impediment whatever to a 
moose. If, as happens very rarely, the loose snow 
is of such depth that even the stilt-like legs of the 
moose cannot touch solid earth, it flounders and 
struggles forward for a little time, and then sinks 
exhausted ; for a caribou is the only large animal 
which can travel under such conditions. If there 



266 The Wilderness Hunter 

be a crust, even though the snow is not remark- 
ably deep, the labor of the moose is vastly in- 
creased, as it breaks through at every step, cutting 
its legs and exhausting itself. A caribou, on the 
other hand, will go across a crust as well as a man 
on snow-shoes, and can never be caught by the 
latter, save under altogether exceptional conditions 
of snowfall and thaw. 

" Crusting," or following game on snow-shoes, is, 
as the name implies, almost always practised after 
the middle of February, when thaws begin, and the 
snow crusts on top. The conditions for success in 
crusting moose and deer are very different. A 
crust through which a moose would break at every 
stride may carry a running deer without mishap ; 
while the former animal would trot at ease through 
drifts in which the latter would be caught as if in 
a quicksand. 

Hunting moose on snow, therefore, may be, and 
very often is, mere butchery ; and because of this 
possibility or probability, and also because of the 
fact that it is by far the most destructive kind of 
hunting, and is carried on at a season when the 
bulls are hornless and the cows heavy with calf, 
it is rigidly and properly forbidden wherever there 
are good game laws. Yet this kind of hunting 
may also be carried on under circumstances which 
render it if not a legitimate, yet a most exciting 
and manly sport, only to be followed by men of 



The Moose 267 

tried courage, hardihood, and skill. This is not 
because it ever necessitates any skill whatever in 
the use of the rifle, or any particular knowledge of 
hunting-craft; but because under the conditions 
spoken of, the hunter must show great endurance 
and resolution, and must be an adept in the use of 
snow-shoes. 

It all depends upon the depth of the snow and 
the state of the crust. If when the snow is very 
deep there comes a thaw, and if it then freezes 
hard, the moose are overtaken and killed with 
ease; for the crust cuts their legs, they sink to 
their bellies at every plunge, and speedily become 
so worn out that they can no longer keep ahead of 
any man who is even moderately skilful in the use 
of snow-shoes; though they do not, as deer so 
often do, sink exhausted after going a few rods 
from their yard. Under such circumstances a few 
hardy hunters or settlers, who are perfectly reck- 
less in slaughtering game, may readily kill all the 
moose in a district. It is a kind of hunting which 
just suits the ordinary settler, who is hardy and 
enduring, but knows little of hunting-craft proper. 

If the snow is less deep, or the crust not so heavy, 
the moose may travel for scores of miles before it 
is overtaken; and this even though the crust be 
strong enough to bear a man wearing snow-shoes 
without breaking. The chase then involves the 
most exhausting fatigue. Moreover, it can be 



268 The Wilderness Hunter 

carried on only by those who are very skilful in 
the use of snow-shoes. These snow-shoes are of two 
kinds. In the northeast, and in the most tangled 
forests of the northwest, the webbed snow-shoes 
are used ; on the bare mountain-sides, and in the 
open forests of the Rockies, the long, narrow 
wooden skees or Norwegian snow-skates are pre- 
ferred, as upon them men can travel much faster, 
though they are less handy in thick timber. Hav- 
ing donned his snow-shoes and struck the trail of a 
moose, the hunter may have to follow it three 
days if the snow is of only ordinary depth, with a 
moderate crust. He shuffles across the snow with- 
out halt while daylight lasts, and lies down where- 
ever he happens to be when night strikes him, 
probably with a little frozen bread as his only 
food. The hunter thus goes through inordinate 
labor, and suffers from exposure ; not infrequently 
his feet are terribly cut by the thongs of the snow- 
shoes, and become sore and swollen, causing great 
pain. When overtaken after such a severe chase, 
the moose is usually so exhausted as to be unable 
to make any resistance; in all likelihood it has 
run itself to a standstill. Accordingly, the quality 
of the firearms makes but little difference in this 
kind of hunting. Many of the most famous old 
moose-hunters of Maine, in the long past days, 
before the Civil War, when moose were plenty 
there, used what were known as "three-dollar'* 



The Moose 269 

guns; light, single-barrelled smooth-bores. One 
whom I knew used a flint-lock musket, a relic of 
the War of 181 2. Another in the course of an 
exhausting three days' chase lost the lock of his 
cheap percussion-cap gim ; and when he overtook 
the moose he had to explode the cap by hammer- 
ing it with a stone. 

It is in ''crusting," when the chase has lasted 
but a comparatively short time, that moose most 
frequently show fight ; for they are not cast into 
a state of wild panic by a sudden and unlooked-for 
attack by a man who is a long distance from them, 
but, on the contrary, after being worried and 
irritated, are approached very near by foes from 
whom they have been fleeing for hours. Never- 
theless, in the majority of cases even crusted 
moose make not the slightest attempt at retalia- 
tion. If the chase has been very long, or if the 
depth of the snow and character of the crust are ex- 
ceptionally disadvantageous to them, they are so 
utterly done out, when overtaken, that they can- 
not make a struggle, and may even be killed with 
an axe. I know of at least five men who have 
thus killed crusted moose with an axe ; one in the 
Rocky Moimtains, one in Minnesota, three in 
Maine. 

But in ordinary snow a man who should thus 
attempt to kill a moose would merely jeopardize 
his own life ; and it is not an uncommon thing for 



270 The Wilderness Hunter 

chased moose, when closely approached by their 
pursuers, even when the latter carry guns and are 
expert snow-shoers, to charge them with such 
ferocity as to put them in much peril. A brother 
of one of my cow-hands, a man from Maine, was 
once nearly killed by a cow-moose. She had been 
in a yard with her last year's calf when started. 
After two or three hours' chase he overtook them. 
They were travelling in single file, the cow break- 
ing her path through the snow, while the calf 
followed close behind, and in his nervousness some- 
times literally ran up on her. The man trotted 
close alongside; but, before he could fire, the old 
cow spun round and charged him, her mane bris- 
tling and her green eyes snapping with rage. It 
happened that just there the snow became shallow 
and the moose gained so rapidly that the man, to 
save his life, sprang up a tree. As he did so the 
cow reared and struck at him, one fore foot catch- 
ing in his snow-shoe and tearing it clear off, giving 
his ankle a bad wrench. After watching him a 
minute or two she turned and continued her flight ; 
whereupon he climbed down the tree, patched up 
his torn snow-shoe and limped after the moose, 
which he finally killed. 

An old hunter named Purvis told me of an ad- 
venture of the kind, which terminated fatally. He 
was himting near the Coeur d'Al^ne Mountains 
with a mining prospector named Pingree; both 



The Moose 271 

were originally from New Hampshire. Late in 
November there came a heavy fall of snow, deep 
enough to soon bring a deer to a standstill, al- 
though not so deep as to hamper a moose's move- 
ments. The men bound on their skees and started 
to the borders of a lake, to kill some blacktail. In 
a thicket close to the lake's brink they suddenly 
came across a bull moose — a lean old fellow, still 
savage from the rut. Pingree, who was nearest, 
fired at and wounded him; whereupon he rushed 
straight at the man, knocked him down before he 
could turn round on his skees, and began to pound 
him with his terrible fore feet. Summoned by his 
comrade's despairing cries, Purvis rushed round 
the thickets, and shot the squealing, trampling 
monster through the body, and immediately after 
had to swing himself up a small tree to avoid its 
furious rush. The moose did not turn after this 
charge, but kept straight on, and was not seen 
again. The wounded man was past all help, for 
his chest was beaten in, and he died in a couple of 
hours. 

END OF VOLUME I 



NEW LIBRARY EDITION 



THE 

WILDERNESS HUNTER 



An Account of the big Game of the United States 
AND ITS Chase with Horse, Hound and Rifle 



BY 



THEODORE ROOSEVELT 



TWO VOLUMES IN ONE 
PART II 



G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 

NEW YORK AND LONDON 

Zbc Ikntcfterbocftcr presa 



Copyright, 1893 

by 

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 



THE BISON OR AMERICAN BUFFALO 

Extermination of the bison — My brother and cousin take a 
hunting trip in Texas — Hardships — Hunting on the Brazos — 
Many buffalo slain — Following four bulls — A stampede — 
Splitting the herd — Occasional charges — A Comanche war 
party — Great herds on the Arkansas — Adventure of Clarence 
King — The bison of the mountains — At the vanishing point 
— A hunt for mountain bison — A trail discovered — Skilful 
tracking — A band of six — Death of the bull — A camp in the 
canyon 1-30 

CHAPTER II 

THE BLACK BEAR 

Habits of the black bear — Holds his own well in the land — 
The old hunters — Hunting bear with dogs — General Hamp- 
ton's hunting — Black bear at bay — A bear catching mice and 
chipmunks — Occasional raids on the farmyard — Their weight 
— Those I have killed 3 1-41 

CHAPTER III 

OLD EPHRAIM, THE GRISLY BEAR 

The king of American game — Varieties of the grisly — 
Worthlessness of old hunters' opinions — Grisly contrasted 
with black bear — Size — Habits in old times — Habits nowa- 

VOL. II. 

ni 



iv Contents 

days — Hibernating — Cattle-killing — Horse-killing — Range 
cow repels bear — Bear kills sheep and hogs — Occasional raids 
on game — Killing bison, elk, and moose — Eats carrion — Old 
hes sometimes kill cubs — Usually eats roots and vegetables 
— Fondness for berries — Its foes — Den — Fond of wallowing 
— Shes and cubs — Trapping bears — Hunting them with dogs 
— Ordinarily killed with rifle 42-79 

CHAPTER IV 

HUNTING THE GRISLY 

Camp in the mountains — After the first snow — Trailing and 
stalking a big bear — His death — Lying in camp — Stalking and 
shooting a bear at a moose carcass — Lying in wait for a bear 
by a dead elk — He comes late in the evening — Is killed — A 
successful hunting trip — A quarrel — I start home alone — Get 
lost on second day — Shot at a grisly — His resolute charge and 
death — Danger in hunting the grisly — Exaggerated, but real 
— Rogers charged — Difference in ferocity in different bears — 
Dr. Merrill's queer experience — Tazewell Woody's adven- 
tures — Various ways in which bears attack — Examples — 
Men maimed and slain — Instances — Mr. Whitney's experience 
— A bear killed on the round-up — Ferocity of old-time bears 
— Occasional unprovoked attacks — A French trapper at- 
tacked — Cowboys and bears — Killing them with a revolver — 
Feat of General Jackson 80-127 

CHAPTER V 

THE COUGAR 

Difficulty of killing the cougar — My own failures— Kill one 
in the mountains — Hunting the cougar with hounds — Ex- 
perience of General Wade Hampton and Colonel Cecil Clay — 
"Hold on. Penny" — What the cougar preys on — Its haunts 
— Its calls — Rarely turns on man — Occasionally dangerous — 
Instances 128-142 



Contents v 

CHAPTER VI 

A PECCARY HUNT ON THE NUECES 

A trip in southern Texas — A ranch on the Frio — Roping 
cattle — Extermination of the peccary — Odd habits — Occa- 
sionally attacks unprovoked — We drive south to the Nueces 
— Flower prairies — Semi-tropical landscape — Hunting on 
horseback — Half-blood hounds — Find a small band of pec- 
caries — Kill two — How they act when at bay — Their occa- 
sional freaks 143-157 

CHAPTER VII 

HUNTING WITH HOUNDS 

Old-time hunters rarely used dogs — The packs of the 
southern planters — Coursing in the West — Hunting with 
greyhounds near my ranch — ^Jack- rabbits, foxes, coyotes, an- 
telope, and deer — An original sportsman of the prairies — 
Colonel Williams's greyhounds — Riding on the plains — Cross- 
country riding — Fox-hunting at Geneseo — A day with Mr. 
Wadsworth's hounds — The Meadowbrook drag-hounds — 
High jumping — A meet at Sagamore Hill — Fox-hunting and 
fetishism — Prejudices of sportsmen, foreign and native — 
Different styles of riding 158-187 

CHAPTER VIII 

WOLVES AND WOLF-HOUNDS 

The wolf — Contrasted with coyote — Variations in color — 
Former abundance — The riddle of its extermination — Inex- 
plicable differences in habits between closely related species — 
Size of wolf — Animals upon which it preys — Attacking cattle; 
horses; other animals; foxes, dogs, and even coyotes — Rtms 
down deer and antelope — Coyotes catch jack- rabbits — Wolves 
around camp — A wolf shot — Wolf-hunting with hounds — An 
overmatch for most dogs — Decimating a pack — Coursing 



VI Contents 

wolves with greyhounds — A hunt in the foothills — Rous- 
ing the wolves — The chase — The worry — Death of both 
wolves — Wolf-hounds near Fort Benton — Other packs — The 
Sun River hounds — Their notable feats — Colonel Williams's 
hounds 188-207 

CHAPTER IX 

IN COWBOY LAND 

Development of archaic types of character — Cowboys and 
hunters — Rough virtues and faults — Incidents — Hunting a 
horse-thief — Tale of the ending of a desperado — Light- 
hearted way of regarding "broke horses" — Hardness of the 
life — Deaths from many causes — Fight of Indians with trap- 
pers — The slaying of the Medicine Chief Sword- Bearer — Mad 
feat and death of two Cheyenne braves , 208-261 

CHAPTER X 

HUNTING LORE 

Game which ought not to be killed — Killing black bear 
with a knife — Sports with rod and shotgun — Snow-shoeing 
and mountaineering — American writers on outdoor life : 
Burroughs, Thoreau, Audubon, Coues, etc. — American 
hunting books — American writers on life in the wilderness : 
Parkman, Irving, Cooper on pioneer life — American states- 
men and soldiers devoted to the chase: Lincoln, Jackson, 
Israel Putnam — A letter from Webster on trout-fishing — 
Clay — Washington — Hunting Extracts from Washington's 
diaries — Washington as a fox-hunter 262-282 

Appendix 283 

Index 289 



THE 

WILDERNESS HUNTER 



THE WILDERNESS 
HUNTER 



CHAPTER I 

THE BISON OR AMERICAN BUFFALO 

WHEN we became a nation, in 1776, the 
buffaloes, the first animals to vanish 
when the wilderness is settled, roved 
to the crests of the mountains which mark the 
western boundaries of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and 
the Carolinas. They were plentiful in what are 
now the States of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. 
But by the beginning of the present century they 
had been driven beyond the Mississippi; and for 
the next eighty years they formed one of the most 
distinctive and characteristic features of existence 
on the great plains. Their numbers were count- 
less — incredible. In vast herds of hundreds of 
thousands of individuals, they roamed from the 
Saskatchewan to the Rio Grande and westward 
to the Rocky Mountains. They furnished all the 
means of livelihood to the tribes of Horse Indians, 

VOL. II.— I. 



2 The Wilderness Hunter 

and to the curious population of French Metis, or 
Half-breeds, on the Red River, as well as to those 
dauntless and archetypical wanderers, the white 
hunters and trappers. Their numbers slowly di- 
minished, but the decrease was very gradual until 
after the Civil War. They were not destroyed by 
the settlers, but by the railways and the skin- 
hunters. 

After the ending of the Civil War, the work of 
constructing trans-continental railway lines was 
pushed forward with the utmost vigor. These 
supplied cheap and indispensable, but hitherto 
wholly lacking, means of transportation to the 
hunters; and at the same time the demand for 
buffalo robes and hides became very great, while 
the enormous numbers of the beasts, and the com- 
parative ease with which they were slaughtered, 
attracted throngs of adventurers. The result was 
such a slaughter of big game as the world had 
never before seen; never before were so many 
large animals of one species destroyed in so short 
a time. Several million buffaloes were slain. In 
fifteen years from the time the destruction fairly 
began the great herds were exterminated. In all 
probability there are not now, all told, five hun- 
dred head of wild buffaloes on the American con- 
tinent ; and no herd of a hundred individuals has 
been in existence since 1884. 

The first great break followed the building of 



The Bison or American Buffalo 3 

the Union Pacific railway. All the buffaloes of 
the middle region were then destroyed, and the 
others were split into two vast sets of herds, the 
northern and the southern. The latter were de- 
stroyed first, about 1878; the former not until 
1883. My own chief experience with buffaloes 
was obtained in the latter year, among small bands 
and scattered individuals, near my ranch on the 
Little Missouri ; I have related it elsewhere. But 
two of my kinsmen were more fortimate, and took 
part in the chase of these lordly beasts when the 
herds still darkened the prairie as far as the eye 
could see. 

During the first two months of 1877, my brother 
Elliott, then a lad not seventeen years old, made a 
buffalo-hunt toward the edge of the Staked Plains 
in northern Texas. He was thus in at the death of 
the southern herds ; for all, save a few scattering 
bands, were destroyed within two years of this 
time. He was with my cousin, John Roosevelt, 
and they went out on the range with six other ad- 
venturers. It was a party of just such young men 
as frequently drift to the frontier. All were short 
of cash, and all were hardy, vigorous fellows, 
eager for excitement and adventure. My brother 
was much the youngest of the party, and the least 
experienced; but he was well-grown, strong and 
healthy, and very fond of boxing, wrestling, nm- 
ning, riding, and shooting; moreover, he had 



4 The Wilderness Hunter 

served an apprenticeship in hunting deer and 
turkeys. Their mess-kit, ammunition, bedding, 
and provisions were carried in two prairie-wagons, 
each drawn by four horses. In addition to the 
teams they had six saddle-animals — all of them 
shaggy, unkempt mustangs. Three or four dogs, 
setters and half-bred greyhounds, trotted along 
behind the wagons. Each man took his turn for 
two days as teamster and cook; and there were 
always two with the wagons, or camp, as the case 
might be, while the other six were off hunting, 
usually in couples. The expedition was undertaken 
partly for sport and partly with the hope of profit ; 
for, after purchasing the horses and wagons, none 
of the party had any money left, and they were 
forced to rely upon selling skins and hides, and, 
when near the forts, meat. 

They started on January 2d, and shaped their 
course for the head-waters of the Salt Fork of the 
Brazos, the centre of abundance for the great 
buffalo herds. During the first few days they 
were in the outskirts of the settled country, and 
shot only small game — quail and prairie-fowl; 
then they began to kill turkey, deer, and antelope. 
These they swapped for flour and feed at the 
ranches or squalid, straggling frontier towns. On 
several occasions the hunters were lost, spending 
the night out in the open, or sleeping at a ranch, 
if one was found. Both towns and ranches were 



The Bison or American Buffalo 5 

filled with rough customers; all of my brother's 
companions were muscular, hot-headed fellows; 
and as a consequence they were involved in several 
savage free fights, in which, fortunately, nobody 
was seriously hurt. My brother kept a very brief 
diary, the entries being fairly startling from their 
conciseness. A number of times the mention of 
their arrival, either at a halting-place, a little vil- 
lage, or a rival buffalo-camp, is followed by the 
laconic remark, "big fight," or *'big row"; but 
once they evidently concluded discretion to be the 
better part of valor, the entry for January 20th 
being, "On the road — passed through Belknap — 
too lively, so kept on to the Brazos — very late." 
The buffalo-camps in particular were very jealous 
of one another, each party regarding itself as hav- 
ing exclusive right to the range it was the first to 
find; and on several occasions this feeling came 
near involving my brother and his companions in 
serious trouble. 

While slowly driving the heavy wagons to the 
hunting-grounds they suffered the usual hardships 
of plains travel. The weather, as in most Texas 
winters, alternated between the extremes of heat 
and cold. There had been little rain; in conse- 
quence water was scarce. Twice they were forced 
to cross wild, barren wastes, where the pools had 
dried up, and they suffered terribly from thirst. 
On the first occasion the horses were in good 



6 The Wilderness Hunter 

condition, and they travelled steadily, with only oc- 
casional short halts, for over thirty-six hours, by 
which time they were across the waterless country. 
The journal reads: "January 27th. — Big hunt — 
no water, and we left Quinn's blockhouse this 
morning 3 a.m. — on the go all night — hot. Janu- 
ary 28th. — No water — hot — at seven we struck 
water, and by eight Stinking Creek — grand 'hur- 
rah.'" On the second occasion, the horses were 
weak and travelled slowly, so the party went 
forty-eight hours without drinking. "February 
19th. — Pulled on twenty-one miles — trail bad — 
freezing night, no water, and wolves after our 
fresh meat. 20th. — Made nineteen miles over 
prairie; again only mud, no water, freezing hard 
— frightful thirst. 21st. — ^Thirty miles to Clear 
Fork, fresh water." These entries were hurriedly 
jotted down at the time, by a boy who deemed it 
unmanly to make any especial note of hardship or 
suffering; but every plainsman will understand 
the real agony implied in working hard for two 
nights, one day, and portions of two others, with- 
out water, even in cool weather. During the last 
few miles the staggering horses were only just able 
to drag the lightly loaded wagon, — for they had 
but one with them at the time, — while the men 
plodded along in sullen silence, their mouths so 
parched that they could hardly utter a word. My 
own hunting and ranching were done in the north. 



The Bison or American Buffalo 7 

where there is more water ; so I have never had a 
similar experience. Once I took a team in thirty- 
six hours across a country where there was no 
water; but by good luck it rained heavily in the 
night, so that the horses had plenty of wet grass, 
and I caught the rain in my slicker, and so had 
enough water for myself. Personally, I have but 
once been as long as twenty-six hours without 
water. 

The party pitched their permanent camp in a 
canyon of the Brazos known as Canyon Blanco. 
The last few days of their journey they travelled 
beside the river through a veritable hunter's para- 
dise. The drought had forced all the animals to 
come to the larger watercourses, and the country 
was literally swarming with game. Every day, 
and all day long, the wagons travelled through the 
herds of antelopes that grazed on every side, while 
whenever they approached the canyon brink 
bands of deer started from the timber that fringed 
the river's course ; often, even the deer wandered 
out on the prairie with the antelope. Nor was 
the game shy; for the hunters, both red and 
white, followed only the buffaloes, until the huge, 
shaggy herds were destroyed, and the smaller 
beasts were in consequence but little molested. 

Once my brother shot five antelopes from a 
single stand, when the party were short of fresh 
venison ; he was out of sight and to leeward, and 



8 The Wilderness Hunter 

the antelopes seemed confused rather than alarmed 
at the rifle-reports and the fall of their compan- 
ions. As was to be expected where game was so 
plenty, wolves and coyotes also abounded. At 
night they surrounded the camp, wailing and 
howling in a kind of shrieking chorus through- 
out the hours of darkness; one night they came 
up so close that the frightened horses had to be 
hobbled and guarded. On another occasion a 
large wolf actually crept into camp, where he 
was seized by the dogs, and the yelling, writhing 
knot of combatants rolled over one of the sleepers ; 
finally, the long-toothed prowler managed to 
shake himself loose, and vanished in the gloom. 
One evening they were almost as much startled 
by a visit of a different kind. They were just 
finishing supper when an Indian stalked suddenly 
and silently out of the surrounding darkness, 
squatted down in the circle of firelight, remarked 
gravely, ''Me Tonk," and began helping himself 
from the stew. He belonged to the friendly tribe 
of Tonkaways, so his hosts speedily recovered 
their equanimity ; as for him, he had never lost 
his, and he sat eating by the fire until there was 
literally nothing left to eat. The panic caused 
by his appearance was natural; for at that time 
the Comanches were a scourge to the buffalo- 
hunters, ambushing them and raiding their camps ; 
and several bloody fights had taken place. 



The Bison or American Bufifalo 9 

Their camp had been pitched near a deep pool 
or water-hole. On both sides the blufEs rose like 
walls, and where they had crumbled and lost their 
sheemess the vast buffalo herds, passing and re- 
passing for countless generations, had worn fur- 
rowed trails so deep that the backs of the beasts 
were but little above the surrounding soil. In the 
bottom, and in places along the crests of the cliffs 
that hemmed in the canyon-like valley, there 
were groves of tangled trees, tenanted by great 
flocks of wild turkeys. Once my brother made 
two really remarkable shots at a pair of these 
great birds. It was at dusk, and they were flying 
directly overhead from one cliff to the other. He 
had in his hand a thirty-eight calibre Ballard 
rifle, and, as the gobblers winged their way heavily 
by, he brought both down with two successive 
bullets. This was of course mainly a piece of 
mere luck; but it meant good shooting, too. The 
Ballard was a very accurate, handy little weapon ; 
it belonged to me, and was the first rifle I ever 
owned or used. With it I had once killed a deer, 
the only specimen of large game I had then shot ; 
and I presented the rifle to my brother when he 
went to Texas. In our happy ignorance we 
deemed it quite good enough for buffalo or any- 
thing else ; but out on the plains my brother soon 
foimd himself forced to procure a heavier and 
more deadly weapon. 



lo The Wilderness Hunter 

When camp was pitched the horses were turned 
loose to graze and refresh themselves after their 
trying journey, during which they had lost flesh 
wofully. They were watched and tended by 
the two men who were always left in camp, and, 
save on rare occasions, were only used to haul in 
the buffalo hides. The camp-guards for the time 
being acted as cooks; and, though coffee and 
flour both ran short and finally gave out, fresh 
meat of every kind was abundant. The camp 
was never without buffalo-beef, deer and ante- 
lope venison, wild turkeys, prairie-chickens, quails, 
ducks, and rabbits. The birds were simply 
"potted," as occasion required; when the quarry 
was deer or antelope, the hunters took the dogs 
with them to run down the wounded animals. 
But almost the entire attention of the hunters 
was given to the buffalo. After an evening spent 
in lounging round the camp-fire and a sound 
night's sleep, wrapped in robes and blankets, 
they would get up before daybreak, snatch a 
hurried breakfast, and start off in couples through 
the chilly dawn. The great beasts were very 
plentiful; in the first day's hunt twenty were 
slain ; but the herds were restless and ever on the 
move. Sometimes they would be seen right by 
the camp, and again it would need an all-day's 
tramp to find them. There was no difficulty in 
spying them — the chief trouble with forest game ; 



The Bison or American Buffalo 1 1 

for on the prairie a biiffalo makes no effort to 
hide, and its black, shaggy bulk looms up as far as 
the eye can see. Sometimes they were fotmd in 
small parties of three or four individuals, some- 
times in bands of about two hundred, and again 
in great herds of many thousands; and solitary 
old bulls, expelled from the herds, were common. 
If on broken land, among hills and ravines, there 
was not much difficulty in approaching from the 
leeward; for, though the sense of smell in the 
buffalo is very acute, they do not see well at a 
distance through their overhanging frontlets of 
coarse and matted hair. If, as was generally the 
case, they were out on the open, rolling prairie, 
the stalking was far more difficult. Every hol- 
low, every earth hummock and sage bush had to 
be used as cover. The hunter wriggled through 
the grass flat on his face, pushing himself along 
for perhaps a quarter of a mile by his toes and 
fingers, heedless of the spiny cactus. When near 
enough to the huge, unconscious quarry, the 
hunter began firing, still keeping himself carefully 
concealed. If the smoke was blown away by the 
wind, and if the buffaloes caught no glimpse of the 
assailant, they would often stand motionless and 
stupid until many of their number had been slain, 
the hunter being careful not to fire too high, aim- 
ing just behind the shoulder, about a third of the 
way up the body, that his bullet might go through 



12 The Wilderness Hunter 

the lungs. Sometimes, even after they saw the 
man, they would act as if confused and panic- 
struck, huddling together and staring at the 
smoke-puffs; but generally they were off at a 
lumbering gallop as soon as they had an idea of 
the point of danger. When once started, they 
ran for many miles before halting, and their pur- 
suit on foot was extremely laborious. 

One morning my brother and cousin had been 
left in camp as guards. They were sitting idly 
warming themselves in the first sunbeams, when 
their attention was sharply drawn to four buffa- 
loes that were coming to the pool to drink. The 
beasts came down a game trail, a deep rut in 
the bluff, fronting where they were sitting, and 
they did not dare to stir for fear of being dis- 
covered. The buffaloes walked into the pool, 
and after drinking their fill stood for some time 
with the water running out of their mouths, idly 
lashing their sides with their short tails, enjoying 
the bright warmth of the early sunshine; then, 
with much splashing and the gurgling of soft 
mud, they left the pool and clambered up the 
bluff with unwieldy agility. As soon as they 
turned, my brother and cousin ran for their rifles, 
but before they got back the buffaloes had crossed 
the bluff crest. Climbing after them, the two 
hunters found, when they reached the summit, 
that their game, instead of halting, had struck 



The Bison or American Buffalo 13 

straight off across the prairie at a slow lope, 
doubtless intending to rejoin the herd they had 
left. After a moment's consultation the men 
went in pursuit, excitement overcoming their 
knowledge that they ought not, by rights, to 
leave camp. They struck a steady trot, following 
the animals by sight until they passed over a 
knoll, and then trailing them. Where the grass 
was long, as it was for the first four or five miles, 
this was a work of no difficulty, and they did not 
break their gait, only glancing now and then at 
the trail. As the sun rose and the day became 
warm, their breathing grew quicker; and the 
sweat rolled off their faces as they ran across the 
rough prairie sward, up and down the long in- 
clines, now and then shifting their heavy rifles 
from one shoulder to the other. But they were 
in good training, and they did not have to halt. 
At last they reached stretches of bare ground, 
sun-baked and grassless, where the trail grew 
dim; and here they had to go very slowly, care- 
fully examining the faint dents and marks made 
in the soil by the heavy hoofs, and unravelling 
the trail from the mass of old footmarks. It was 
tedious work, but it enabled them to completely 
recover their breath by the time that they again 
struck the grassland; and but a few hundred 
yards from its edge, in a slight hollow, they saw 
the four buffaloes just entering a herd of fifty or 



14 The Wilderness Hunter 

sixty that were scattered out grazing. The herd 
paid no attention to the newcomers, and these 
immediately began to feed greedily. After a 
whispered consultation, the two hunters crept 
back, and made a long circle that brought them 
well to leeward of the herd, in line with a slight 
rise in the grotind. They then crawled up to 
this rise and, peering through the tufts of tall, 
rank grass, saw the unconscious beasts a hundred 
and twenty-five or fifty yards away. They fired 
together, each mortally wounding his animal, and 
then, rushing in as the herd halted in confusion, 
and following them as they ran, impeded by 
numbers, hurry, and panic, they eventually got 
three more. 

On another occasion the same two hunters 
nearly met with a frightful death, being over- 
taken by a vast herd of stampeded buffaloes. All 
animals that go in herds are subject to these in- 
stantaneous attacks of uncontrollable terror, un- 
der the influence of which they become perfectly 
mad, and rush headlong in dense masses on any 
form of death. Horses, and more especially cattle, 
often suffer from stampedes ; it is a danger against 
which the cowboys are compelled to be perpet- 
ually on guard. A band of stampeded horses, 
sweeping in mad terror up a valley, will dash 
against a rock or tree with such violence as to 
leave several dead animals at its base, while the 



The Bison or American Buffalo 15 

survivors race on without halting ; they will over- 
turn and destroy tents and wagons, and a man 
on foot caught in the rush has but a small chance 
for his life. A buffalo stampede is much worse — 
or rather was much worse, in the old days — be- 
cause of the great weight and immense numbers 
of the beasts, which, in a fury of heedless terror, 
plunged over cliffs and into rivers, and bore down 
whatever was in their path. On the occasion in 
question, my brother and cousin were on their 
way homeward. They were just mounting one 
of the long, low swells, into which the prairie was 
broken, when they heard a low, muttering, rum- 
bling noise, like far-off thunder. It grew steadily 
louder, and, not knowing what it meant, they 
hurried forward to the top of the rise. As they 
reached it, they stopped short in terror and 
amazement, for before them the whole prairie 
was black with madly rushing buffaloes. 

Afterward they learned that another couple of 
hunters, four or five miles off, had fired into and 
stampeded a large herd. This herd, in its rush, 
gathered others, all thundering along together in 
uncontrollable and increasing panic. 

The surprised hunters were far away from any 
broken ground or other place of refuge, while the 
vast herd of huge, plunging, maddened beasts was 
charging straight down on them, not a quarter 
of a mile distant. Down they came! thousands 



1 6 The Wilderness Hunter 

upon thousands, their front extending a mile in 
breadth, while the earth shook beneath their 
thunderous gallop, and, as they came closer, their 
shaggy frontlets loomed dimly through the col- 
umns of dust thrown up from the dry soil. The 
two hunters knew that their only hope for life was 
to split the herd, which, though it had so broad 
a front, was not very deep. If they failed they 
would inevitably be trampled to death. 

Waiting until the beasts were in close range, 
they opened a rapid fire from their heavy breech- 
loading rifles, yelling at the top of their voices. 
For a moment the result seemed doubtful. The 
line thundered steadily down on them; then it 
swayed violently, as two or three of the brutes 
immediately in their front fell beneath the bullets, 
while their neighbors made violent efforts to press 
off sideways. Then a narrow wedge-shaped rift 
appeared in the line, and widened as it came 
closer, and the buffaloes, shrinking from their 
foes in front, strove desperately to edge away from 
the dangerous neighborhood ; the shouts and 
shots were redoubled; the hunters were almost 
choked by the cloud of dust, through which they 
could see the stream of dark huge bodies passing 
within rifle-length on either side; and in a mo- 
ment the peril was over, and the two men were 
left alone on the plain, unharmed, though with 
their nerves terribly shaken. The herd careered 



The Bison or American Buffalo 17 

on toward the horizon, save five individuals 
which had been killed or disabled by the shots. 

On another occasion, when my brother was out 
with one of his friends, they fired at a small herd 
containing an old bull; the bull charged the 
smoke, and the whole herd followed him. Prob- 
ably they were simply stampeded, and had no 
hostile intention ; at any rate, after the death of 
their leader, they rushed by without doing any 
damage. 

But buffaloes sometimes charged with the ut- 
most determination, and were then dangerous 
antagonists. My cousin, a very hardy and reso- 
lute hunter, had a narrow escape from a wounded 
cow which he followed up a steep bluff or sand 
cliff. Just as he reached the summit, he was 
charged, and was only saved by the sudden ap- 
pearance of his dog, which distracted the cow's 
attention. He thus escaped with only a tumble 
and a few bruises. 

My brother also came in for a charge, while 
killing the biggest bull that was slain by any 
of the party. He was out alone, and saw a 
small herd of cows and calves at some distance, 
with a huge bull among them, towering above 
them like a giant. There was no break in the 
ground, nor any tree nor bush near them, but, by 
making a half -circle, my brother managed to creep 
up against the wind behind a slight roll in the 



VOL. II. — 2. 



1 8 The Wilderness Hunter 

prairie surface, until he was within seventy-five 
yards of the grazing and unconscious beasts. 
There were some cows and calves between him 
and the bull, and he had to wait some moments 
before they shifted position, as the herd grazed on- 
ward and gave him a fair shot; in the interval 
they had moved so far forward that he was in 
plain view. His first bullet struck just behind the 
shoulder; the herd started and looked aroimd, 
but the bull merely lifted his head and took a step 
forward, his tail curled up over his back. The 
next bullet likewise struck fair, nearly in the same 
place, telling with a loud ''pack " against the 
thick hide, and making the dust fly up from the 
matted hair. Instantly the great bull wheeled 
and charged in headlong anger, while the herd 
fied in the opposite direction. On the bare 
prairie, with no spot of refuge, it was useless to 
try to escape, and the hunter, with reloaded rifle, 
waited until the bull was not far off, then drew up 
his weapon and fired. Either he was nervous, or 
the bull at the moment bounded over some ob- 
stacle, for the ball went a little wild; neverthe- 
less, by good luck, it broke a fore leg, and the 
great beast came crashing to the earth, and was 
slain before he could struggle to his feet. 

Two days after this event, a war party of 
Comanches swept down along the river. They 
"jumped" a neighboring camp, killing one man 



The Bison or American Buffalo 19 

and wounding two more, and at the same time 
ran off all but three of the horses belonging to 
our eight adventurers. With the remaining three 
horses and one wagon they set out homeward. 
The march was hard and tedious ; they lost their 
way and were in jeopardy from quicksands and 
cloudbursts; they suffered from thirst and cold, 
their shoes gave out, and their feet were lamed 
by cactus spines. At last they reached Fort 
Griffen in safety, and great was their ravenous re- 
joicing when they procured some bread, — for dur- 
ing the final fortnight of the hunt they had been 
without flour or vegetables of any kind, or even 
coffee, and had subsisted on fresh meat " straight.'* 
Nevertheless, it was a very healthy as well as a 
very pleasant and exciting experience; and I 
doubt if any of those who took part in it will 
ever forget their great buffalo-hunt on the Brazos. 
My friend. Gen. W. H. Walker, of Virginia, had 
an experience in the early '50's with buffaloes on 
the Upper Arkansas River, which gives some idea 
of their enormous numbers at that time. He was 
camped with a scouting party on the banks of the 
river, and had gone out to try to shoot some meat. 
There were many buffaloes in sight, scattered, 
according to their custom, in large bands. When 
he was a mile or two away from the river a dull 
roaring sound in the distance attracted his atten- 
tion, and he saw that a herd of buffalo far to the 



20 The Wilderness Hunter 

south, away from the river, had been stampeded 
and was running his way. He knew that if he was 
caught in the open by the stampeded herd -his 
chance for Hfe would be small, and at once ran 
for the river. By desperate efforts he reached 
the breaks in the sheer banks just as the buffaloes 
reached them, and got into a position of safety on 
the pinnacle of a little bluff. From this point of 
vantage he could see the entire plain. To the 
very verge of the horizon the brown masses of 
the buffalo bands showed through the dust clouds, 
coming on with a thunderous roar like that of 
surf. Camp was a mile away, and the stampede 
luckily passed to one side of it. Watching his 
chance he finally dodged back to the tent, and all 
that afternoon watched the immense masses of 
buffalo, as band after band tore to the brink of 
the bluffs on one side, raced down them, rushed 
through the water, up the bluffs on the other 
side, and again off over the plain, churning the 
sandy, shallow stream into a ceaseless tumult. 
When darkness fell there was no apparent decrease 
in the numbers that were passing, and all through 
that night the continuous roar showed that the 
herds were still threshing across the river. To- 
wards dawn the sound at last ceased, and General 
Walker arose somewhat irritated, as he had reck- 
oned on killing an ample supply of meat, and he 
supposed that there would be now no bison left 



The Bison or American Buffalo 21 

south of the river. To his astonishment, when 
he strolled up on the bluffs and looked over the 
plain, it was still covered far and wide with groups 
of buffalo, grazing quietly. Apparently there 
were as many on that side as ever, in spite of the 
many scores of thousands that must have crossed 
over the river during the stampede of the after- 
noon and night. The barren-ground caribou is 
the only American animal which is now ever seen 
in such enormous herds. 

In 1862, Mr. Clarence King, while riding along 
the overland trail through western Kansas, passed 
through a great buffalo herd, and was himself in- 
jured in an encoimter with a bull. The great herd 
was then passing north, and Mr. King reckoned 
that it must have covered an area nearly seventy 
miles by thirty in extent ; the figures representing 
his rough guess, made after travelling through the 
herd crosswise, and upon knowing how long it 
took to pass a given point going northward. This 
great herd, of course, was not a solid mass of buf- 
faloes ; it consisted of innumerable bands of every 
size, dotting the prairie within the limits given. 
Mr. King was mounted on a somewhat unman- 
ageable horse. On one occasion in following a 
band he wounded a large bull, and became so 
wedged in by the maddened animals that he was 
unable to avoid the charge of the bull, which was 
at its last gasp. Coming straight toward him, it 



22 The Wilderness Hunter 

leaped into the air and struck the afterpart of 
the saddle full with its massive forehead. The 
horse was hurled to the ground with a broken 
back, and King's leg was likewise broken, while 
the bull turned a complete somersault over them 
and never rose again. 

In the recesses of the Rocky Mountains, from 
Colorado northward through Alberta, and in the 
depths of the subarctic forest beyond the Sas- 
katchewan, there have always been foimd small 
numbers of the bison, locally called the moim- 
tain buffalo and wood buffalo; often indeed the 
old hunters term these animals "bison," although 
they never speak of the plains animals save as 
buffalo. They form a slight variety of what was 
formerly the ordinary plains bison, intergrading 
with it ; on the whole, they are darker in color, 
with longer, thicker hair, and in consequence 
with the appearance of being heavier-bodied and 
shorter-legged. They have been sometimes spo- 
ken of as forming a separate species ; but, judging 
from my own limited experience, and from a 
comparison of the many hides I have seen, I 
think they are really the same animal, many in- 
dividuals of the two so-called varieties being quite 
indistinguishable. In fact, the only moderate- 
sized herd of wild bison in existence to-day, the 
protected herd in the Yellowstone Park, is com- 
posed of animals intermediate in habits and coat 



The Bison or American Buffalo 23 

between the mountain and plains varieties — as 
were all the herds of the Bighorn, Big Hole, 
Upper Madison, and Upper Yellowstone valleys. 

However, the habitat of these wood and moun- 
tain bison yielded them shelter from hunters in a 
way that the plains never could, and hence they 
have always been harder to kill in the one place 
than in the other ; for precisely the same reasons 
that have held good with the elk, which have 
been completely exterminated from the plains, 
while still abimdant in many of the forest fast- 
nesses of the Rockies. Moreover, the bison's dull 
eyesight is no special harm in the woods, while 
it is peculiarly hurtful to the safety of any beast 
on the plains, where eyesight avails more than any 
other sense, the true game of the plains being 
the prongbuck, the most keen-sighted of Ameri- 
can animals. On the other hand the bison's 
hearing, of little avail on the plains, is of much 
assistance in the woods; and its excellent nose 
helps equally in both places. 

Though it was always more difficult to kill the 
bison of the forests and mountains than the bison 
of the prairie, yet now that the species is, in its 
wild state, hovering on the brink of extinction, 
the difficulty is immeasurably increased. A mer- 
ciless and terrible process of natural selection, 
in which the agents were rifle-bearing hunters, 
has left as the last survivors in a hopeless struggle 



24 The Wilderness Hunter 

for existence only the wariest of the bison and 
those gifted with the sharpest senses. That this 
was true of the last lingering individuals that 
survived the great slaughter on the plains is well 
shown by Mr. Homaday in his graphic account 
of his campaign against the few scattered buffalo 
which still lived in 1886 between the Missouri 
and the Yellowstone, along the Big Dry. The 
bison of the plains and the prairies have now 
vanished; and so few of their brethren of the 
mountains and the northern forests are left, that 
they can just barely be reckoned among Ameri- 
can game ; but whoever is so fortunate as to find 
any of these animals must work his hardest, and 
show all his skill as a hunter, if he wishes to get 
one. 

In the fall of 1889 I heard that a very few 
bison were still left around the head of Wisdom 
River. Thither I went and hunted faithfully; 
there was plenty of game of other kind, but of 
bison not a trace did we see. Nevertheless, a 
few days later that same year I came across these 
great wild cattle at a time when I had no idea 
of seeing them. 

It was, as nearly as we could tell, in Idaho, 
just south of the Montana boundary line, and 
some twenty-five miles west of the line of Wyo- 
ming. We were camped high among the moun- 
tains, with a small pack-train. On the day in 



The Bison or American Buffalo 25 

question we had gone out to find moose, but had 
seen no sign of them, and had then begim to chmb 
over the higher peaks with an idea of getting sheep. 
The old hunter who was with me was, very for- 
timately, suffering from rheumatism, and he there- 
fore carried a long stafE instead of his rifle ; I say 
fortimately, for if he had carried his rifle it would 
have been impossible to stop his firing at such 
game as bison, nor would he have spared the cows 
and calves. 

About the middle of the afternoon we crossed 
a low, rocky ridge, above timber line, and saw at 
our feet a basin or round valley of singular beauty. 
Its walls were formed by steep mountains. At its 
upper end lay a small lake, bordered on one side 
by a meadow of emerald green. The lake's other 
side marked the edge of the frowning pine forest 
which filled the rest of the valley, and hung high 
on the sides of the gorge which formed its outlet. 
Beyond the lake the ground rose in a pass evi- 
dently much frequented by game in bygone days, 
their trails lying along it in thick zigzags, each 
gradually fading out after a few hundred yards, 
and then starting again in a little different place, 
as game trails so often seem to do. 

We bent our steps towards these trails, and no 
sooner had we reached the first than the old hunter 
bent over it with a sharp exclamation of wonder. 
There in the dust, apparently but a few hours 



26 The Wilderness Hunter 

old, were the unmistakable hoof -marks of a small 
band of bison. They were headed towards the 
lake. There had been a half a dozen animals in 
the party ; one a big bull, and two calves. 

We immediately turned and followed the trail. 
It led down to the little lake, where the beasts had 
spread and grazed on the tender, green blades, and 
had drimk their fill. The footprints then came to- 
gether again, showing where the animals had 
gathered and walked ofE in single file to the forest. 
Evidently they had come to the pool in the early 
morning, walking over the game pass from some 
neighboring valley, and after drinking and feeding 
had moved into the pine forest to find some spot 
for their noontide rest. 

It was a very still day, and there were nearly 
three hours of daylight left. Without a word my 
silent companion, who had been scanning the 
whole country with hawk-eyed eagerness, be- 
sides scrutinizing the sign on his hands and knees, 
took the trail, motioning me to follow. In a mo- 
ment we entered the woods, breathing a sigh of 
relief as we did so; for while in the meadow we 
could never tell that the buffalo might not see us, 
if they happened to be lying in some place with a 
commanding lookout. 

The old hunter was thoroughly roused, and he 
showed himself a very skilful tracker. We were 
much favored by the character of the forest, which 



The Bison or American Buffalo 27 

was rather open, and in most places free from 
undergrowth and down timber. As in most Rocky- 
Mountain forests the timber was small, not only as 
compared to the giant trees of the groves of the 
Pacific coast, but as compared to the forests of the 
Northeast. The ground was covered with pine- 
needles and soft moss, so that it was not difficult to 
walk noiselessly. Once or twice when I trod on a 
small dry twig, or let the nails in my shoes clink 
slightly against a stone, the hunter turned to me 
with a frown of angry impatience; but as he 
walked slowly, continually halting to look ahead, 
as well as stooping over to examine the trail, I did 
not find it very difficult to move silently. I kept 
a little behind him, and to one side, save when he 
crouched to take advantage of some piece of cover, 
and I crept in his footsteps. I did not look at the 
trail at all, but kept watching ahead, hoping at 
any moment to see the game. 

It was not very long before we struck their day- 
beds, which were made on a knoll, where the forest 
was open and where there was much down timber. 
After leaving the day-beds the animals had at first 
fed separately around the grassy base and sides of 
the knoll, and had then made off in their usual 
single file, going straight to a small pool in the 
forest. After drinking they had left this pool, and 
travelled down towards the gorge at the mouth of 
the basin, the trail leading along the sides of the 



28 The Wilderness Hunter 

steep hill, which were dotted by open glades; 
while the roar of the cataracts by which the stream 
was broken ascended from below. Here we moved 
with redoubled caution, for the sign had grown 
very fresh and the animals had once more scat- 
tered and begun feeding. When the trail led across 
the glades we usually skirted them so as to keep 
in the timber. 

At last, on nearing the edge of one of these 
glades we saw a movement among the young trees 
on the other side, not fifty yards away. Peering 
through the safe shelter yielded by some thick 
evergreen bushes, we speedily made out three 
bison, a cow, a calf, and a yearling, grazing greedily 
on the other side of the glade, under the fringing 
timber ; all with their heads up hill. Soon another 
cow and calf stepped out after them. I did not 
wish to shoot, waiting for the appearance of the 
big bull which I knew was accompanying them. 

So for several minutes I watched the great, 
clumsy, shaggy beasts, as all unconscious they 
grazed in the open glade. Behind them rose the 
dark pines. At the left of the glade the ground fell 
away to form the side of a chasm; down in its 
depths the cataracts foamed and thundered; be- 
yond, the huge mountains towered, their crests 
crimsoned by the sinking sun. Mixed with the 
eager excitement of the hunter was a certain half 
melancholy feeling as I gazed on these bison, them- 



The Bison or American Buffalo 29 

selves part of the last remnant of a doomed and 
nearly vanished race. Few, indeed, are the men 
who now have, or evermore shall have, the chance 
of seeing the mightiest of American beasts, in all 
his wild vigor, surrounded by the tremendous 
desolation of his far-off mountain home. 

At last, when I had begun to grow very anxious 
lest the others should take alarm, the bull likewise 
appeared on the edge of the glade, and stood with 
outstretched head, scratching his throat against a 
young tree, which shook violently. I aimed low, 
behind his shoulder, and pulled trigger. At the 
crack of the rifle all the bison, without the mo- 
mentary halt of terror-struck surprise so common 
among game, turned and raced off at headlong 
speed. The fringe of young pines beyond and 
below the glade cracked and swayed as if a whirl- 
wind were passing, and in another moment they 
reached the top of a very steep incline, thickly 
strewn with boulders and dead timber. Down 
this they plunged with reckless speed ; their sure- 
footedness was a marvel in such seemingly im- 
wieldy beasts. A column of dust obscured their 
passage, and under its cover they disappeared in 
the forest ; but the trail of the bull was marked 
by splashes of frothy blood, and we followed it 
at a trot. Fifty yards beyond the border of the 
forest we foimd the stark black body stretched 
motionless. He was a splendid old bull, still in 



30 The Wilderness Hunter 

his full vigor, with large sharp horns, and heavy 
mane and glossy coat; and I felt the most ex- 
ulting pride as I handled and examined him ; for 
I had procured a trophy such as can fall hence- 
forth to few hunters indeed. 

It was too late to dress the beast that evening ; 
so, after taking out the tongue and cutting off 
enough meat for supper and breakfast, we scram- 
bled down to near the torrent, and after some 
search fotmd a good spot for camping. Hot and 
dusty from the day's hard tramp, I imdressed and 
took a plunge in the stream, the icy water making 
me gasp. Then, having built a slight lean-to of 
brush, and dragged together enough dead timber 
to bum all night, we cut long alder twigs, sat down 
before some embers raked apart, and grilled and 
ate our buffalo meat with the utmost relish. Night 
had fallen; a cold wind blew up the valley; the 
torrent roared as it leaped past us, and drowned 
our words as we strove to talk over our adventures 
and success; while the flame of the fire flickered 
and danced, lighting up with continual vivid 
flashes the gloom of the forest round about. 



CHAPTER II 

THE BLACK BEAR 

NEXT to the whitetail deer the black bear is 
the commonest and most widely distrib- 
uted of American big game. It is still 
foimd quite plentifully in northern New England, 
in the Adirondacks, Cat skills, and along the entire 
length of the Alleghanies, as well as in the swamps 
and canebrakes of the Southern States. It is also 
common in the great forests of northern Michigan, 
Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and throughout the 
Rocky Moimtains and the timbered ranges of the 
Pacific coast. In the East it has always ranked 
second only to the deer among the beasts of chase. 
The bear and the buck were the staple objects of 
pursuit of all the old hunters. They were more 
plentiful than the bison and elk even in the long 
vanished days when these two great monarchs of 
the forest still ranged eastward to Virginia and 
Pennsylvania. The wolf and the cougar were 
always too scarce and too shy to yield much profit 
to the hunter. The black bear is a timid, cowardly 
animal, and usually a vegetarian, though it some- 
times preys on the sheep, hogs, and even cattle of 

31 



32 The Wilderness Hunter 

the settler, and is very fond of raiding his com and 
melons. Its meat is good and its fur often valua- 
ble; and in its chase there is much excitement, 
and occasionally a slight spice of danger, just 
enough to render it attractive; so it has always 
been eagerly followed. Yet it still holds its own, 
though in greatly diminished numbers, in the more 
thinly settled portions of the country. One of the 
standing riddles of American zoology is the fact 
that the black bear, which is easier killed and less 
prolific than the wolf, should hold its own in the 
land better than the latter, this being directly 
the reverse of what occurs in Europe, where the 
brown bear is generally exterminated before the 
wolf. 

In a few wild spots in the East, in northern 
Maine for instance, here and there in the neigh- 
borhood of the upper Great Lakes, in the east 
Tennessee and Kentucky mountains and the 
swamps of Florida and Mississippi, there still lin- 
gers an occasional representative of the old wilder- 
ness hunters. These men live in log cabins in the 
wilderness. They do their hunting on foot, occa- 
sionally with the help of a single trailing dog. In 
Maine they are as apt to kill moose and caribou as 
bear and deer; but elsewhere the last two, with an 
occasional cougar or wolf, are the beasts of chase 
which they follow. Nowadays as these old hunters 
die there is no one to take their places, though 



The Black Bear 33 

there are still plenty of backwoods settlers in all 
of the regions named who do a great deal of hunt- 
ing and trapping. Such an old hunter rarely 
makes his appearance at the settlements except to 
dispose of his peltry and hides in exchange for 
cartridges and provisions, and he leads a life of 
such lonely isolation as to insure his individual 
characteristics developing into peculiarities. Most 
of the wilder districts in the Eastern States still 
preserve memories of some such old hunter who 
lived his long life alone, waging ceaseless warfare 
on the vanishing game, whose oddities, as well as 
his courage, hardihood, and woodcraft, are laugh- 
ingly remembered by the older settlers, and who 
is usually best known as having killed the last 
wolf or bear or cougar ever seen in the locality. 

Generally the weapon mainly relied on by these 
old himters is the rifle ; and occasionally some old 
himter will be found even to this day who uses a 
muzzle-loader, such as Kit Carson carried in the 
middle of the century. There are exceptions to 
this rule of the rifle, however. In the years after 
the Civil War one of the many noted hunters of 
southwest Virginia and east Tennessee was Wilbur 
Waters, sometimes called the Hunter of White 
Top. He often killed black bear with a knife 
and dogs. He spent all his life in hunting and 
was very successful, killing the last gang of wolves 
to be found in his neighborhood; and he slew 

VOL. II. — 3. 



34 The Wilderness Hunter 

innumerable bears, with no worse results to him- 
self than an occasional bite or scratch. 

In the Southern States the planters living in the 
wilder regions have always been in the habit of 
following the black bear with horse and hoimd, 
many of them keeping regular packs of bear 
hounds. Such a pack includes not only pure-bred 
hounds, but also cross-bred animals, and some 
sharp, agile, hard-biting fierce dogs and terriers. 
They follow the bear and bring him to bay, but do 
not try to kill him, although there are dogs of the 
big fighting breeds which can readily master a 
black bear if loosed at him three or four at a time ; 
but the dogs of these southern bear-hound packs 
are not fitted for such work, and if they try to 
close with the bear he is certain to play havoc 
with them, disembowelling them with blows of 
his paws or seizing them in his arms and biting 
through their spines or legs. The riders follow the 
hounds through the canebrakes, and also try to 
make cut-offs and station themselves at open points 
where they think the bear will pass, so that they 
may get a shot at him. The weapons used are 
rifles, shotguns, and occasionally revolvers. 

Sometimes, however, the hunter uses the knife. 
General Wade Hampton, who has probably killed 
more black bears than any other man living in the 
United States, frequently used the knife, slaying 
thirty or forty with this weapon. His plan was, 



The Black Bear 35 

when he found that the dogs had the bear at bay, 
to walk up close and cheer them on. They would 
instantly seize the bear in a body, and he would 
then rush in and stab it behind the shoulder, 
reaching over so as to inflict the wound on the 
opposite side from that where he stood. He es- 
caped scathless from all these encounters save one, 
in which he was rather severely torn in the fore- 
arm. Many other hunters have used the knife, but 
perhaps none so frequently as he; for he was 
always fond of steel, as witness his feats with the 
** white arm" during the Civil War. 

General Hampton always hunted with large 
packs of hounds, managed sometimes by himself 
and sometimes by his negro hunters. He occasion- 
ally took out forty dogs at a time. He fotmd that 
all his dogs together could not kill a big fat bear, 
but they occasionally killed three-year-olds, or 
lean and poor bears. During the course of his life 
he has himself killed, or been in at the death of, 
five hundred bears, at least two thirds of them 
falling by his own hand. In the years just before 
the war he had on one occasion, in Mississippi, 
killed sixty-eight bears in five months. Once he 
killed four bears in a day ; at another time three, 
and frequently two. The two largest bears he 
himself killed weighed, respectively, 408 and 410 
pounds. They were both shot in Mississippi. But 
he saw at least one bear killed which was much 



36 The Wilderness Hunter 

larger than either of these. These figures were 
taken down at the time, when the animals were 
actually weighed on the scales. Most of his himting 
for bear was done in northern Mississippi, where 
one of his plantations was situated, near Greenville. 
During the half -century that he hunted, on and 
off, in this neighborhood, he knew of two instances 
where hunters were fatally wounded in the chase 
of the black bear. Both of the men were inexpe- 
rienced , one being a raftsman who came down the 
river, and the other a man from Vicksburg. He 
was not able to learn the particulars in the last 
case, but the raftsman came too close to a bear 
that was at bay, and it broke through the dogs, 
rushed at and overthrew him, then, lying on him, 
it bit him deeply in the thigh, through the fem- 
oral artery, so that he speedily bled to death. 

But a black bear is not usually a formidable op- 
ponent, and though he will sometimes charge 
home he is much more apt to bluster and bully 
than actually to come to close quarters. I myself 
have but once seen a man who had been hurt by 
one of these bears. This was an Indian. He had 
come on the beast close up in a thick wood, and 
had mortally wounded it with his gun; it had 
then closed with him, knocking the gun out of his 
hand, so that he was forced to use his knife. It 
charged him on all fours, but in the grapple, when 
it had failed to throw him down, it raised itself on 



The Black Bear 37 

its hind legs, clasping him across the shoulders 
with its fore paws. Apparently it had no intention 
of hugging, but merely sought to draw him within 
reach of his jaws. He fought desperately against 
this, using the knife freely, and striving to keep its 
head back; and the flow of blood weakened the 
animal, so that it finally fell exhausted before 
being able dangerously to injure him. But it had 
bitten his left arm very severely, and its claws had 
made long gashes on his shoulders. 

Black bears, like grislies, vary greatly in their 
modes of attack. Sometimes they rush in and bite ; 
and again they strike with their fore paws. Two 
of my cowboys were originally from Maine, where 
I knew them well. There they were fond of trap- 
ping bears, and caught a good many. The huge 
steel gins, attached by chains to heavy clogs, pre- 
vented the trapped beasts from going far; and 
when fotmd they were always tied tight round 
some tree or bush, and usually nearly exhausted. 
The men killed them either with a little 3 2 -calibre 
pistol or a hatchet. But once did they meet with 
any difficulty. On this occasion one of them in- 
cautiously approached a captured bear to knock 
it on the head with his hatchet, but the animal 
managed to partially untwist itself, and with its 
free forearm made a rapid sweep at him; he 
jumped back just in time, the bear's claws tearing 
his clothes — after which he shot it. Bears are shy 



3^ The Wilderness Hunter 

and have very keen noses ; they are therefore hard 
to kill by fair hunting, living, as they generally do, 
in dense forests or thick brush. They are easy 
enough to trap, however. Thus, these two men, 
though they trapped so many, never but once 
killed them in any other way. On this occasion 
one of them, in the winter, foimd in a great hollow 
log a den where a she and two well-grown cubs had 
taken up their abode, and shot all three with his 
rifle as they burst out. 

Where they are much hunted, bear become 
purely nocturnal ; but in the wilder forests I have 
seen them abroad at all hours, though they do not 
much relish the intense heat of noon. They are 
rather comical animals to watch feeding and going 
about the ordinary business of their lives. Once I 
spent half an hour lying at the edge of a wood and 
looking at a black bear some three hundred yards 
off across an open glade. It was in good stalking 
country, but the wind was unfavorable, and I 
waited for it to shift — waited too long as it proved, 
for something frightened the beast, and he made 
off before I could get a shot at him. When I first 
saw him he was shuffling along and rooting in the 
ground, so that he looked like a great pig. Then 
he began to turn over the stones and logs to himt 
for insects, small reptiles, and the like. A mod- 
erate-sized stone he would turn over with a single 
clap of his paw, and then plunge his nose down 



The Black Bear 39 

into the hollow to gobble up the small creatures 
beneath while still dazed by the light. The big 
logs and rocks he would tug and worry at with 
both paws ; once, over-exerting his clumsy strength, 
he lost his grip and rolled clean on his back. Under 
some of the logs he evidently found mice and chip- 
munks ; then, as soon as the log was overturned, 
he would be seen jumping about with grotesque 
agility, and making quick dabs here and there, as 
the little, scurrying rodent turned and twisted, 
until at last he put his paw on it and scooped it up 
into his mouth. Sometimes, probably when he 
smelt the mice imdemeath, he would cautiously 
turn the log over with one paw, holding the other 
lifted and ready to strike. Now and then he 
would halt and sniff the air in every direction, and 
it was after one of these halts that he suddenly 
shuffled off into the woods. 

Black bear generally feed on berries, nuts, in- 
sects, carrion, and the like; but at times they 
take to killing very large animals. In fact, they 
are curiously irregular in their food. They will kill 
deer if they can get at them; but generally the 
deer are too quick. Sheep and hogs are their 
favorite prey, especially the latter, for bears seem 
to have a special relish for pork. Twice I have 
known a black bear kill cattle. Once the victim 
was a bull which had got mired, and which the 
bear deliberately proceeded to eat alive, heedless 



40 The Wilderness Hunter 

of the bellows of the unfortunate beast. On the 
other occasion, a cow was surprised and slain 
among some bushes at the edge of a remote pas- 
ture. In the spring, soon after the long winter 
sleep, they are very hungry, and are especially apt 
to attack large beasts at this time ; although dur- 
ing the very first days of their appearance, when 
they are just breaking their fast, they eat rather 
sparingly, and by preference the tender shoots of 
green grass and other herbs, or frogs and crayfish ; 
it is not for a week or two that they seem to be 
overcome by lean, ravenous hunger. They will 
even attack and master that formidable fighter 
the moose, springing at it from an ambush as it 
passes — for a bull moose would surely be an over- 
match for one of them if fronted fairly in the open. 
An old hunter, whom I could trust, told me that 
he had seen in the snow in early spring the place 
where a bear had sprung at two moose, which were 
trotting together; he missed his spring, and the 
moose got off, their strides after they settled down 
into their pace being tremendous, and showing how 
thoroughly they were frightened . Another time he 
saw a bear chase a moose into a lake, where it waded 
out a little distance, and then turned to bay, bid- 
ding defiance to his pursuer, the latter not daring to 
approach in the water. I have been told — but can- 
not vouch for it — that instances have been known 
where the bear, maddened by hunger, has gone in 



The Black Bear 41 

on a moose thus standing at bay, only to be beaten 
down under the water by the terrible fore hoofs of 
the quarry, and to yield its life in the contest. A 
lumberman told me that he once saw a moose, 
evidently much startled, trot through a swamp, 
and immediately afterwards a bear came up, follow- 
ing the tracks. He almost ran into the man, and 
was evidently not in a good temper, for he growled 
and blustered, and two or three times made feints 
of charging, before he finally concluded to go off. 

Bears will occasionally visit hunters' or lumber- 
men's camps, in the absence of the owners, and 
play sad havoc with all that therein is, devouring 
everything eatable, especially if sweet, and tram- 
pling into a dirty mess whatever they do not eat. 
The black bear does not average more than a third 
the size of the grisly; but, like all its kind, it 
varies greatly in weight. The largest I myself ever 
saw weighed was in Maine, and tipped the scale at 
346 pounds; but I have a perfectly authentic rec- 
ord of one in Maine that weighed 397, and my 
friend, Dr. Hart Merriam, tells me that he has 
seen several in the Adirondacks that when killed 
weighed about 350. 

I have myself shot but one or two black bears, 
and these were obtained imder circumstances of no 
special interest, as I merely stumbled on them 
while after other game, and killed them before 
they had a chance either to run or show fight. 



CHAPTER III 

OLD EPHRAIM, THE GRISLY BEAR 

THE king of the game beasts of temperate 
North America, because the most danger- 
ous to the hunter, is the grisly bear ; known 
to the few remaining old-time trappers of the 
Rockies and the great plains, sometimes as "Old 
Ephraim" and sometimes as ** Moccasin Joe" — 
the last in allusion to his queer, half -human foot- 
prints, which look as if made by some misshapen 
giant, walking in moccasins. 

Bear vary greatly in size and color, no less than 
in temper and habits. Old hunters speak much of 
them in their endless talks over the camp-fires and 
in the snow-bound winter huts. They insist on 
many species ; not merely the black and the grisly, 
but the brown, the cinnamon, the gray, the silver- 
tip, and others with names known only in certain 
localities, such as the range bear, the roach-back, 
and the smut-face. But, in spite of popular opin- 
ion to the contrary, most old hunters are very 
untrustworthy in dealing with points of natural his- 
tory. They usually know only so much about any 
given game animal as will enable them to kill it. 

42 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 43 

They study its habits solely with this end in view ; 
and once slain they only examine it to see about 
its condition and fur. With rare exceptions they 
are quite incapable of passing judgment upon 
questions of specific identity or difference. When 
questioned, they not only advance perfectly im- 
possible theories and facts in support of their 
views, but they rarely even agree as to the views 
themselves. One himter will assert that the true 
grisly is only found in California, heedless of the 
fact that the name was first used by Lewis and 
Clarke as one of the titles they applied to the large 
bears of the plains country round the Upper Mis- 
souri, a quarter of a century before the California 
grisly was known to fame. Another hunter will 
call any big brindled bear a grisly no matter where 
it is f otmd ; and he and his companions will dispute 
by the hour as to whether a bear of large, but not 
extreme, size is a grisly or a silver-tip. In Oregon 
the cinnamon bear is a phase of the small black 
bear; in Montana it is the plains variety of the 
large mountain silver-tip. I have myself seen the 
skins of two bears killed on the upper waters of 
Tongue River; one was that of a male, one of a 
female, and they had evidently just mated; yet 
one was distinctly a ''silver-tip" and the other a 
' ' cinnamon . ' ' The skin of one very big bear which 
I killed in the Bighorn has proved a standing puz- 
zle to almost all the old hunters to whom I have 



44 The Wilderness Hunter 

showed it ; rarely do any two of them agree as to 
whether it is a grisly, a silver-tip, a cinnamon, or a 
** smut-face." Any bear with imusually long hair 
on the spine and shoulders, especially if killed in 
the spring, when the fur is shaggy, is forthwith 
dubbed a *' roach-back." The average sporting 
writer moreover joins with the more imaginative 
members of the ''old hunter" variety in ascribing 
wildly various traits to these different bears. One 
comments on the superior prowess of the roach- 
back; the explanation being that a bear in early 
spring is apt to be ravenous from hunger. The 
next insists that the California grisly is the only 
really dangerous bear; while another stoutly 
maintains that it does not compare in ferocity 
with what he calls the " smaller" silver-tip or cin- 
namon. And so on, and so on, without end. All of 
which is mere nonsense. 

Nevertheless, it is no easy task to determine 
how many species or varieties of bear actually do 
exist in the United States, and I cannot even say 
without doubt that a very large set of skins and 
skulls would not show a nearly complete inter- 
gradation between the most widely separated in- 
dividuals. However, there are certainly two very 
distinct types, which differ almost as widely from 
each other as a wapiti does from a mule deer, and 
which exist in the same localities in most heavily 
timbered portions of the Rockies. One is the 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 45 

small black bear, a bear which will average about 
two hiindred pounds weight, with fine, glossy, 
black fur, and the fore claws but little longer, than 
the hinder ones; in fact, the hairs of the fore paw 
often reach to their tips. This bear is a tree- 
climber. It is the only kind foimd east of the 
great plains, and it is also plentiful in the forest- 
clad portions of the Rockies, being common in 
most heavily timbered tracts throughout the 
United States. The other is the grisly, which 
weighs three or four times as much as the black, 
and has a pelt of coarse hair, which is in color gra}^ 
grizzled, or brown of various shades. It is not a 
tree-climber, and the fore claws are very long, 
much longer than the hinder ones. It is foimd 
from the great plains west of the Mississippi to the 
Pacific coast. This bear inhabits indifferently 
lowland and mountain ; the deep woods, and the 
barren plains where the only cover is the stimted 
growth fringing the streams. These two types are 
very distinct in every way, and their differences 
are not at all dependent upon mere geographical 
considerations; for they are often found in the 
same district. Thus I found them both in the 
Bighorn Moimtains, each type being in extreme 
form, while the specimens I shot showed no trace 
of intergradation. The huge grizzled, long-clawed 
beast, and its little glossy-coated, short-clawed, 
tree-climbing brother roamed over exactly the 



46 The Wilderness Hunter 

same country in those mountains ; but they were 
as distinct in habits, and mixed as Httle together, 
as moose and caribou. 

On the other hand, when a sufficient number of 
bears from widely separated regions are examined, 
the various distinguishing marks are fotind to be 
inconstant, and to show a tendency — exactly how 
strong I cannot say — to fade into one another. 
The differentiation of the two species seems to be 
as yet scarcely completed ; there are more or less 
imperfectly connecting links, and as regards the 
grisly it almost seems as if the specific characters 
were still imstable. In the far Northwest, in the 
basin of the Columbia, the ** black" bear is as 
often brown as any other color; and I have seen 
the skins of two cubs, one black and one brown, 
which were shot when following the same dam. 
When these brown bears have coarser hair than 
usual their skins are with difficulty to be distin- 
guished from those of certain varieties of the grisly. 
Moreover, all bears vary greatly in size; and I 
have seen the bodies of very large black or brown 
bears with short fore claws which were fully as 
heavy as, or perhaps heavier than, some small but 
full-grown grislies with long fore claws. These 
very large bears with short claws are very reluc- 
tant to climb a tree; and are almost as clumsy 
about it as a young grisly. Among the grislies the 
fur varies much in color and texture even among 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 47 

bears of the same locality ; it is of course richest in 
the deep forest, while the bears of the dry plains 
and mountains are of a lighter, more washed- 
out hue. 

A full-grown grisly will usually weigh from five 
to seven hundred pounds ; but exceptional individ- 
uals imdoubtedly reach more than twelve hun- 
dredweight. The California bears are said to be 
much the largest. This I think is so, but I cannot 
say it with certainty — at any rate, I have examined 
several skins of full-grown Califomian bears which 
were no larger than those of many I have seen 
from the northern Rockies. The Alaskan bears, 
particularly those of the peninsula, are even bigger 
beasts ; the skin of one which I saw in the posses- 
sion of Mr. Webster, the taxidermist, was a good 
deal larger than the average polar-bear skin ; and 
the animal when alive, if in good condition, could 
hardly have weighed less than 1400 pounds.' 
Bears vary wonderfully in weight, even to the ex- 
tent of becoming half as heavy again, according 
as they are fat or lean; in this respect they are 
more like hogs than like any other animals. 

The grisly is now chiefly a beast of the high hills 
and heavy timber ; but this is merely because he 
has learned that he must rely on cover to guard 

I Both this huge Alaskan bear and the entirely distinct 
bear of the barren grounds differ widely from the true 
grisly, at least in their extreme forms. 



48 The Wilderness Hunter 

him from man, and has forsaken the open ground 
accordingly. In old days, and in one or two very 
out-of-the-way places almost to the present time, 
he wandered at will over the plains. It is only the 
wariness bom of fear which nowadays causes him 
to cling to the thick brush of the large river 
bottoms throughout the plains country. When 
there were no rifle-bearing hunters in the land, to 
harass him and make him afraid, he roved hither 
and thither at will, in burly self-confidence. Then 
he cared little for cover, unless as a weather-break, 
or because it happened to contain food he liked. If 
the humor seized him he would roam for days over 
the rolling or broken prairie, searching for roots, 
digging up gophers, or perhaps following the great 
buffalo herds, either to prey on some unwary strag- 
gler which he was able to catch at a disadvantage 
in a washout, or else to feast on the carcasses of 
those which died by accident. Old hunters, sur- 
vivors of the long- vanished ages when the vast 
herds thronged the high plains and were followed 
by the wild red tribes, and by bands of whites who 
were scarcely less savage, have told me that they 
often met bears under such circumstances; and 
these bears were accustomed to sleep in a patch of 
rank sage bush, in the niche of a washout, or imder 
the lee of a boulder, seeking their food abroad even 
in full daylight. The bears of the Upper Missouri 
Basin — ^which were so light in color that the early 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 49 

explorers often alluded to them as gray or even as 
"white" — were particularly given to this life in 
the open. To this day that close kinsman of the 
grisly known as the bear of the barren grounds 
continues to lead this same kind of life, in the far 
North. My friend Mr. Rockhill, of Maryland, who 
was the first white man to explore eastern Tibet, 
describes the large, grisly-like bear of those deso- 
late uplands as having similar habits. 

However, the grisly is a shrewd beast, and shows 
the usual bear-like capacity for adapting himself 
to changed conditions. He has in most places be- 
come a cover-haimting animal, sly in his ways, 
wary to a degree, and clinging to the shelter of the 
deepest forests in the moimtains and of the most 
tangled thickets in the plains. Hence he has held 
his own far better than such game as the bison and 
elk. He is much less common than formerly, but 
he is still to be found throughout most of his 
former range; save of course in the immediate 
neighborhood of the large towns. 

In most places the grisly hibernates, or as 
old hunters say ''holes up," during the cold sea- 
son, precisely as does the black bear; but, as with 
the latter species, those animals which live far- 
thest south spend the whole year abroad in mild 
seasons. The grisly rarely chooses that favorite 
den of his little black brother, a hollow tree or 
log, for his winter sleep, seeking or making some 

VOL. II.— 4. 



50 The Wilderness Hunter 

cavernous hole in the ground instead. The hole 
is sometimes in a slight hillock in a river bottom, 
but more often on a hillside, and may be either 
shallow or deep. In the mountains it is generally 
a natural cave in the rock, but among the foothills 
and on the plains the bear usually has to take 
some hollow or opening, and then fashion it into 
a burrow to his liking with his big digging claws. 

Before the cold weather sets in the bear begins 
to grow restless, and to roam about seeking for a 
good place in which to hole up. One will often 
try and abandon several caves or partially dug- 
out burrows in succession before finding a place 
to its taste. It always endeavors to choose a 
spot where there is little chance of discovery or 
molestation, taking great care to avoid leaving 
too evident trace of its work. Hence it is not 
often that the dens are found. 

Once in its den the bear passes the cold months 
in lethargic sleep; yet, in all but the coldest 
weather, and sometimes even then, its slumber 
is but slight, and if disturbed it will promptly 
leave its den, prepared for fight or flight as 
the occasion may require. Many times when a 
hunter has stumbled on the winter resting-place 
of a bear and has left it, as he thought, without 
his presence being discovered, he has returned 
only to find that the crafty old fellow was aware 
of the danger all the time, and sneaked off as 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 51 

soon as the coast was clear. But in very cold 
weather hibernating bears can hardly be wakened 
from their torpid lethargy. 

The length of time a bear stays in its den de- 
pends of course upon the severity of the season 
and the latitude and altitude of the country. In 
the northernmost and coldest regions all the bears 
hole up, and spend half the year in a state of 
lethargy; whereas in the south only the shes 
with young and the fat he-bears retire for the 
sleep, and these but for a few weeks, and only 
if the season is severe. 

When the bear first leaves its den the fur is in 
very fine order, but it speedily becomes thin and 
poor, and does not recover its condition until the 
fall. Sometimes the bear does not betray any 
great hunger for a few days after its appear- 
ance; but in a short while it becomes ravenous. 
During the early spring, when the woods are still 
entirely barren and lifeless, while the snow yet 
lies in deep drifts, the lean, himgry brute, both 
maddened and weakened by long fasting, is more 
of a flesh-eater than at any other time. It is at 
this period that it is most apt to turn true beast 
of prey, and show its prowess either at the ex- 
pense of the wild game, or of the flocks of the 
settler and the herds of the ranchman. Bears 
are very capricious in this respect, however. 
Some are confirmed game- and cattle-killers; 



52 The Wilderness Hunter 

others are not; while yet others either are or 
are not, accordingly as the freak seizes them, and 
their ravages vary almost unaccountably, both 
with the season and the locality. 

Throughout 1889, for instance, no cattle, so 
far as I heard, were killed by bears anywhere 
near my range on the Little Missouri in western 
Dakota; yet I happened to know that during 
that same season the ravages of the bears among 
the herds of the cowmen in the Big Hole Basin, 
in western Montana, were very destructive. 

In the spring and early summer of 1888, the 
bears killed no cattle near my ranch ; but in the 
late summer and early fall of that year a big bear, 
which we well knew by its tracks, suddenly took 
to cattle-killing. This was a brute which had its 
headquarters on some very large brush bottoms 
a dozen miles below my ranch-house, and which 
ranged to and fro across the broken country 
flanking the river on each side. It began just 
before berry-time, but continued its career of 
destruction long after the wild plums and even 
buffalo berries had ripened. I think that what 
started it was a feast on a cow which had mired 
and died in the bed of the creek ; at least, it was 
not until after we found that it had been feeding 
at the carcass and had eaten every scrap, that we 
discovered traces of its ravages among the live 
stock. It seemed to attack the animals wholly 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 53 

regardless of their size and strength ; its victims 
including a large bull and a beef steer, as well as 
cows, yearlings, and gaunt, weak trail "dough- 
gies," which had been brought in very late by a 
Texas cow-outfit — for that year several herds 
were driven up from the overstocked, eaten-out, 
and drought -stricken ranges of the far south. 
Judging from the signs, the crafty old grisly, as 
cimning as he was ferocious, usually lay in wait 
for the cattle when they came down to water, 
choosing some thicket of dense underbrush and 
twisted cottonwoods through which they had to 
pass before reaching the sand banks on the river's 
brink. Sometimes he pounced on them as they 
fed through the thick, low cover of the bottoms, 
where an assailant could either lie in ambush by 
one of the numerous cattle trails, or else, creep 
unobserved towards some browsing beast. When 
within a few feet a quick rush carried him fairly 
on the terrified quarry ; and though but a clumsy 
animal compared to the great cats, the grisly is 
far quicker than one would imagine from view- 
ing his ordinary lumbering gait. In one or two 
instances the bear had apparently grappled with 
his victim by seizing it near the loins and strik- 
ing a disabling blow over the small of the back; 
in at least one instance he had jumped on the 
animal's head, grasping it with his fore paws, 
while with his fangs he tore open the throat or 



54 The Wilderness Hunter 

cratinched the neck bone. Some of his victims 
were slain far from the river, in winding, brushy 
coulies of the Bad Lands, where the broken nature 
of the ground rendered stalking easy. Several 
of the ranchmen, angered at their losses, hunted 
their foe eagerly, but always with ill success ; until 
one of them put poison in a carcass, and thus at 
last, in ignoble fashion, slew the cattle-killer. 

Mr. Clarence King informs me that he was once 
eye-witness to a bear's killing a steer, in Cali- 
fornia. The steer was in a small pasture, and 
the bear climbed over, partly breaking down, the 
rails which barred the gateway. The steer started 
to run, but the grisly overtook it in four or five 
boimds, and struck it a tremendous blow on the 
flank with one paw, knocking several ribs clear 
away from the spine, and killing the animal out- 
right by the shock. 

Horses no less than horned cattle at times fall 
victims to this great bear, which usually springs 
on them from the edge of a clearing as they graze 
in some mountain pasture, or among the foot- 
hills ; and there is no other animal of which horses 
seem so much afraid. Generally the bear, whether 
successful or unsuccessful in its raids on cattle and 
horses, comes off unscathed from the struggle; 
but this is not always the case, and it has much 
respect for the hoofs or horns of its should-be 
prey. Some horses do not seem to know how to 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 55 

fight at all ; but others are both quick and vicious, 
and prove themselves very formidable foes, lash- 
ing out behind, and striking with their fore hoofs. 
I have elsewhere given an instance of a stallion 
which beat off a bear, breaking its jaw. 

Quite near my ranch, once, a cowboy in my 
employ fotmd unmistakable evidence of the dis- 
comfiture of a bear by a long-horned range cow. 
It was in the early spring, and the cow, with her 
new-bom calf, was in a brush-bordered valley. 
The footprints in the damp soil were very plain, 
and showed all that had happened. The bear 
had evidently come out of the bushes with a 
rush, probably bent merely on seizing the calf; 
and had slowed up when the cow instead of fly- 
ing faced him. He had then begun to walk round 
his expected dinner in a circle, the cow fronting 
him and moving nervously back and forth, so 
that her sharp hoofs cut and trampled the ground. 
Finally she had charged savagely; whereupon 
the bear had bolted; and, whether frightened at 
the charge, or at the approach of some one, he 
had not returned. 

The grisly is even fonder of sheep and pigs 
than is its smaller black brother. Lurking round 
the settler's house imtil after nightfall, it will 
vault into the fold or sty, grasp a helpless, bleat- 
ing fleece-bearer, or a shrieking, struggling mem- 
ber of the bristly brotherhood, and bundle it out 



5^ The Wilderness Hunter 

over the fence to its death. In carrying its prey 
a bear sometimes holds the body in its teeth, 
walking along on all fours and dragging it as a 
wolf does. Sometimes, however, it seizes an ani- 
mal in its forearms or in one of them, and walks 
awkwardly on three legs or two, adopting this 
method in lifting and pushing the body over 
rocks and down timber. 

When a grisly can get at domestic animals it 
rarely seeks to molest game, the former being 
far less wary and more helpless. Its heaviness 
and clumsiness do not fit it well for a life of 
rapine against shy woodland creatures. Its vast 
strength and determined temper, however, more 
than make amends for lack of agility in the 
actual struggle with the stricken prey; its diffi- 
culty lies in seizing, not in killing, the game. 
Hence, when a grisly does take to game-killing, 
it is likely to attack bison, moose, and elk; it is 
rarely able to catch deer, still less sheep or ante- 
lope. In fact, these smaller game animals often 
show but little dread of its neighborhood, and, 
though careful not to let it come too near, go 
on grazing when a bear is in full sight. White- 
tail deer are frequently foimd at home in the 
same thicket in which a bear has its den, while 
they immediately desert the temporary abiding- 
place of a wolf or cougar. Nevertheless, they 
sometimes presume too much on this confidence. 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 57 

A couple of years before the occurrence of the 
feats of cattle-killing mentioned above as hap- 
pening near my ranch, either the same bear that 
figured in them, or another of similar tastes, took 
to game-hunting. The beast lived in the same 
succession of huge thickets which cover for two 
or three miles the river bottoms and the mouths 
of the inflowing creeks; and he suddenly made 
a raid on the whitetail deer, which were plentiful 
in the dense cover. The shaggy, clumsy monster 
was cunning enough to kill several of these know- 
ing creatures. The exact course of procedure I 
never could find out; but apparently the bear 
laid in wait beside the game trails, along which 
the deer wandered. 

In the old days when the innumerable bison 
grazed free on the prairie, the grisly sometimes 
harassed their bands as it now does the herds 
of the ranchman. The bison was the most easily 
approached of all game, and the great bear could 
often get near some outlying straggler, in its quest 
after stray cows, yearlings, or calves. In default 
of a favorable chance to make a prey of one of 
these weaker members of the herds, it did not 
hesitate to attack the mighty bulls themselves; 
and perhaps the grandest sight which it was ever 
the good fortune of the early hunters to witness 
was one of these rare battles between a hungry 
grisly and a powerful buffalo bull. Nowadays, 



58 The Wilderness Hunter 

however, the few last survivors of the bison are 
vanishing even from the inaccessible mountain 
fastnesses in which they sought a final refuge 
from their destroyers. 

At present the wapiti is of all wild game that 
which is most likely to fall a victim to the grisly, 
when the big bear is in the mood to turn hunter. 
Wapiti are found in the same places as the grisly, 
and in some spots they are yet very plentiful; 
they are less shy and active than deer, while not 
powerful enough to beat off so ponderous a foe; 
and they live in cover where there is always a 
good chance either to stalk or to stumble on 
them. At almost any season bear will come and 
feast on an elk carcass; and if the food supply 
runs short, in early spring, or in a fall when the 
berry crop fails, they sometimes have to do their 
own killing. Twice I have come across the re- 
mains of elk, which had seemingly been slain 
and devoured by bears. I have never heard of 
elk making a fight against a bear; yet, at close 
quarters and at bay, a bull elk in the rutting sea- 
son is an ugly foe. 

A bull moose is even more formidable, being 
able to strike the most lightning-like blows with 
his terrible fore feet, his true weapons of defence. 
I doubt if any beast of prey would rush in on 
one of these woodland giants, when his horns 
were grown, and if he was on his guard and bent 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 59 

on fight. Nevertheless, the moose sometimes fall 
victims to the uncouth prowess of the grisly, in 
the thick wet forests of the high northern Rockies, 
where both beasts dwell. An old hunter who a 
dozen years ago wintered at Jackson Lake, in 
northwestern Wyoming, told me that when the 
snows got deep on the mountains the moose came 
down and took up their abode near the lake, on 
its western side. Nothing molested them during 
the winter. Early in the spring a grisly came 
out of its den, and he found its tracks in many 
places, as it roamed restlessly about, evidently 
very hungry. Finding little to eat in the bleak, 
snow-drifted w^oods, it soon began to depredate 
on the moose, and killed two or three, generally 
by lying in wait and dashing out on them as 
they passed near its lurking-place. Even the 
bulls were at that season weak, and of course 
hornless, with small desire to fight; and in each 
case the rush of the great bear — doubtless made 
with the ferocity and speed which so often belie 
the seeming awkwardness of the animal — bore 
down the startled victim, taken utterly unawares 
before it had a chance to defend itself. In one 
case the bear had missed its spring; the moose 
going off, for a few rods, with huge jumps, 
and then settling down into its characteristic 
trot. The old hunter who followed the tracks 
said he would never have deemed it possible for 



6o The Wilderness Hunter 

any animal to make such strides while in a 
trot. 

Nevertheless, the grisly is only occasionally, not 
normally, a formidable predatory beast, a killer 
of cattle and of large game. Although capable 
of far swifter movement than is promised. by his 
frame of seemingly clumsy strength, and in spite 
of his power of charging with astonishing sud- 
denness and speed, he yet lacks altogether the 
supple agility of such finished destroyers as the 
cougar and the wolf ; and for the absence of this 
agility no amount of mere huge muscle can atone. 
He is more apt to feast on animals which have 
met their death by accident, or which have been 
killed by other beasts or by man, than to do his 
own killing. He is a very foul feeder, with a 
strong relish for carrion, and possesses a grew- 
some and cannibal fondness for the flesh of his 
own kind ; a bear carcass will toll a brother bear 
to the ambushed hunter better than almost any 
other bait, unless it is the carcass of a horse. 

Nor do these big bears always content them- 
selves merely with the carcasses of their breth- 
ren. A black bear would have a poor chance if 
in the clutches of a large, hungry grisly; and an 
old male will kill and eat a cub, especially if he 
finds it at a disadvantage. A rather remarkable 
instance of this occurred in the Yellowstone 
National Park, in the spring of 1891. The in- 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 6i 

cident is related in the following letter written 
to Mr. William Hallett Phillips, of Washington, 
by another friend, Mr. Elwood Hofer. Hofer is 
an old mountain-man; I have hunted with him 
myself, and know his statements to be trust- 
worthy. He was, at the time, at work in the 
Park getting animals for the National Museum 
at Washington, and was staying at Yancey's 
"hotel" near Tower Falls. His letter, which 
was dated June 21, 1891, runs in part as fol- 
lows: 

''I had a splendid Grizzly or Roachback cub 
and was going to send him into the Springs next 
morning the team was here, I heard a racket out 
side went out and found him dead an old bear 
that made an 9 1-2 inch track had killed and 
partly eaten him. Last night another one came, 
one that made an 8 1-2 inch track, and broke 
Yancey up in the milk business. You know how 
the cabins stand here. There is a hitching post 
between the saloon and old house, the little bear 
was killed there. In a creek close by was a milk 
house, last night another bear came there and 
smashed the whole thing up, leaving nothing 
but a few flattened buckets and pans and boards. 
I was sleeping in the old cabin, I heard the tin 
ware rattle but thought it was all right supposed 
it was cows or horses about. I don't care about 
the milk but the damn cuss dug up the remains 



62 The Wilderness Hunter 

of the cub I had buried in the old ditch, he visited 
the old meat house but found nothing. Bear are 
very thick in this part of the Park, and are getting 
very fresh. I sent in the game to Capt. Ander- 
son, hear its doing well." 

Grislies are fond of fish; and on the Pacific 
slope, where the salmon run, they, like so many 
other beasts, travel many scores of miles and 
crowd down to the rivers to gorge themselves 
upon the fish which are thrown up on the banks. 
Wading into the water a bear will knock out the 
salmon right and left when they are running 
thick. 

Flesh and fish do not constitute the grisly' s 
ordinary diet. At most times the big bear is a 
grubber in the ground, an eater of insects, roots, 
nuts, and berries. Its dangerous fore claws are 
normally used to overturn stones and knock rot- 
ten logs to pieces, that it may lap up the small 
tribes of darkness which swarm under the one 
and in the other. It digs up the camas roots, 
wild onions, and an occasional luckless wood- 
chuck or gopher. If food is very plenty bears 
are lazy, but commonly they are obliged to be 
very industrious, it being no light task to gather 
enough ants, beetles, crickets, tumble-bugs, roots, 
and nuts to satisfy the cravings of so huge a bulk. 
The sign of a bear's work is, of course, evident 
to the most unpractised eye ; and in no way can 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 63 

one get a better idea of the brute's power than 
by watching it busily working for its breakfast, 
shattering big logs and upsetting boulders by 
sheer strength. There is always a touch of the 
comic, as well as a touch of the strong and terri- 
ble, in a bear's look and actions. It will tug and 
pull, now with one paw, now with two, now on 
all fours, now on its hind legs, in the effort to 
turn over a large log or stone; and when it suc- 
ceeds it jumps round to thrust its muzzle into 
the damp hollow and lap up the affrighted mice 
or beetles while they are still paralyzed by the 
sudden exposure. 

The true time of plenty for bears is the berry 
season. Then they feast ravenously on huckle- 
berries, blueberries, kinnikinic berries, buffalo 
berries, wild plums, elderberries, and scores of 
other fruits. They often smash all the bushes 
in a berry patch, gathering the fruit with half- 
luxurious, half-laborious greed, sitting on their 
haunches, and sweeping the berries into their 
mouths with dexterous paws. So absorbed do 
they become in their feasts on the luscious fruit 
that they grow reckless of their safety, and 
feed in broad daylight, almost at midday; while 
in some of the thickets, especially those of the 
mountain haws, they make so much noise in 
smashing the branches that it is a comparatively 
easy matter to approach them unheard. That 



64 The Wilderness Hunter 

still-hunter is in luck who in the fall finds an ac- 
cessible berry-covered hillside which is haunted 
by bears ; but, as a rule, the berry bushes do not 
grow close enough together to give the hunter 
much chance. 

Like most other wild animals, bears which 
have known the neighborhood of man are beasts 
of the darkness, or at least of the dusk and the 
gloaming. But they are by no means such true 
night-lovers as the big cats and the wolves. In 
regions where they know little of hunters they 
roam about freely in the daylight, and in cool 
weather are even apt to take their noontide slum- 
bers basking in the sun. Where they are much 
hunted they finally almost reverse their natural 
habits and sleep throughout the hours of light, 
only venturing abroad after nightfall and before 
sunrise; but even yet this is not the habit of 
those bears which exist in the wilder localities 
where they are still plentiful. In these places 
they sleep, or at least rest, during the hours of 
greatest heat, and again in the middle part of 
the night, unless there is a full moon. They 
start on their rambles for food about mid-after- 
noon, and end their morning roaming soon after 
the sun is above the horizon. If the moon is full, 
however, they may feed all night long, and then 
wander but little in the daytime. 

Aside from man, the full-grown grisly has 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 65 

hardly any foe to fear. Nevertheless, in the 
early spring, when weakened by the hunger that 
succeeds the winter sleep, it behooves even the 
grisly, if he dwells in the mountain fastnesses of 
the far Northwest, to beware of a famished troop 
of great timber wolves. These northern Rocky 
Mountain wolves are most formidable beasts, and 
when many of them band together in time of fam- 
ine they do not hesitate to pounce on the black 
bear and cougar; and even a full-grown grisly is 
not safe from their attacks, unless he can back 
up against some rock which will prevent them 
from assailing him from behind. A small ranch- 
man whom I knew well, who lived near Flathead 
Lake, once in April found where a troop of these 
wolves had killed a good-sized yearling grisly. 
Either cougar or wolf will make a prey of a grisly 
which is but a few months old; while any fox, 
lynx, wolverine, or fisher will seize the very 
young cubs. The old story about wolves fearing 
to feast on game killed by a grisly is all nonsense. 
Wolves are canny beasts, and they will not ap- 
proach a carcass if they think a bear is hidden 
near by and likely to rush out at them; but 
under ordinary circumstances they will feast not 
only on the carcasses of the grisly' s victims, but 
on the carcass of the grisly himself after he has 
been slain and left by the hunter. Of course, 
wolves would only attack a grisly if in the most 

VOL. II.— 5. 



66 The Wilderness Hunter 

desperate straits for food, as even a victory over 
such an antagonist must be purchased with 
heavy loss of life ; and a hungry grisly would de- 
vour either a wolf or a cougar, or any one of the 
smaller camivora off-hand if it happened to cor- 
ner it where it could not get away. 

The grisly occasionally makes its den in a cave 
and spends therein the midday hours. But this 
is rare. Usually it lies in the dense shelter of the 
most tangled piece of woods in the neighborhood, 
choosing by preference some bit where the yoimg 
growth is thick and the ground strewn with 
boulders and fallen logs. Often, especially if in 
a restless mood and roaming much over the 
cotmtry, it merely makes a temporary bed, in 
which it lies but once or twice ; and again it may 
make a more permanent lair or series of lairs, 
spending many consecutive nights in each. Us- 
ually the lair or bed is made some distance from 
the f eeding-groimd ; but bold bears, in very wild 
localities, may lie close by a carcass, or in the 
middle of a berry-ground. The deer-killing bear 
above mentioned had evidently dragged two or 
three of his victims to his den, which was under 
an impenetrable mat of buUberries and dwarf 
box-alders, hemmed in by a cut bank on one 
side and a wall of gnarled cottonwoods on the 
other. Roimd this den, and rendering it noi- 
some, were scattered the bones of several deer 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 67 

and a young steer or heifer. When we found 
it we thought we could easily kill the bear, but the 
fierce, cunning beast must have seen or smelt us, 
for though we laid in wait for it long and pa- 
tiently, it did not come back to its place; nor, 
on our subsequent visits, did we ever find traces 
of its having done so. 

Bear are fond of wallowing in the water, whether 
in the sand, on the edge of a rapid plains river, on 
the muddy margin of a pond, or in the oozy moss 
of a clear, cold mountain spring. One hot August 
afternoon, as I was clambering down a steep 
mountain-side near Pend Oreille Lake, I heard a 
crash some distance below, which showed that a 
large beast was afoot. On making my way towards 
the spot, I found I had disturbed a big bear as it 
was lolling at ease in its bath; the discolored 
water showed where it had scrambled hastily 
out and galloped off as I approached. The spring 
welled out at the base of a high granite rock, 
forming a small pool of shimmering broken crystal. 
The soaked moss lay in a deep wet cushion round 
about, and jutted over the edges of the pool like a 
floating shelf. Graceful, water-loving ferns swayed 
to and fro. Above, the great conifers spread their 
murmuring branches, dimming the light, and 
keeping out the heat; their brown boles sprang 
from the ground like buttressed columns. On 
the barren mountain-side beyond, the heat was 



68 The Wilderness Hunter 

oppressive. It was small wonder that Bruin should 
have sought the spot to cool his gross carcass in 
the fresh spring water. 

The bear is a solitary beast, and although many 
may assemble together in what looks like a drove, 
on some favorite feeding-ground — usually where 
the berries are thick, or by the banks of a salmon- 
thronged river — the association is never more than 
momentary, each going its own way as soon as its 
hunger is satisfied. The males always live alone 
by choice, save in the rutting season, when they 
seek the females. Then two or three may come to- 
gether in the course of their pursuit and rough 
courtship of the female ; and if the rivals are well 
matched, savage battles follow, so that many of 
the old males have their heads seamed with scars 
made by their fellows' teeth. At such times they 
are evil tempered and prone to attack man or 
beast on slight provocation. 

The she brings forth her cubs, one, two, or three 
in number, in her winter den. They are very small 
and helpless things, and it is some time after she 
leaves her winter home before they can follow her 
for any distance. They stay with her throughout 
the summer and the fall, leaving her when the cold 
weather sets in. By this time they are well grown ; 
and hence, especially if an old male has joined the 
she, the family may number three or four individ- 
uals, so as to make what seems like quite a little 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 69 

troop of bears. A small ranchman who lived a 
dozen miles from me on the Little Missouri once 
found a she-bear and three half -grown cubs feed- 
ing at a berry-patch in a ravine. He shot the old 
she in the small of the back, whereat she made a 
loud roaring and squealing. One of the cubs 
rushed towards her ; but its sympathy proved mis- 
placed, for she knocked it over with a hearty cuff, 
either out of mere temper, or because she thought 
her pain must be due to an unprovoked assault 
from one of her offspring. The hunter then killed 
one of the cubs, and the other two escaped. When 
bears are together and one is wotmded by a bullet, 
but does not see the real assailant, it often falls 
tooth and nail upon its comrade, apparently at- 
tributing its injury to the latter. 

Bears are hunted in many ways. Some are 
killed by poison; but this plan is only practised 
by the owners of cattle or sheep who have suffered 
from their ravages. Moreover, they are harder to 
poison than wolves. Most often they are killed in 
traps — which are sometimes dead-falls, on the prin- 
ciple of the little figure-4 trap familiar to every 
American country boy, sometimes log-pens in 
which the animal is taken alive, but generally huge 
steel gins. In some States there is a bounty for the 
destruction of grislies; and in many places their 
skins have a market price, although much less 
valuable than those of the black bear. The men 



70 The Wilderness Hunter 

who pursue them for the bounty, or for their fur, 
as well as the ranchmen who regard them as foes to 
stock, ordinarily use steel traps. The trap is very 
massive, needing no small strength to set, and it is 
usually chained to a bar or log of wood, which does 
not stop the bear's progress outright, but hampers 
and interferes with it, continually catching in tree 
stumps and the like. The animal when trapped 
makes off at once, biting at the trap and the bar ; 
but it leaves a broad wake, and sooner or later is 
found tangled up by the chain and bar. A bear is 
by no means so difficult to trap as a wolf or fox, 
although more so than a cougar or a lynx. In wild 
regions a skilful trapper can often catch a great 
many with comparative ease. A cimning old 
grisly, however, soon learns the danger, and is then 
almost impossible to trap, as it either avoids the 
neighborhood altogether or finds out some way 
by which to get at the bait without springing 
the trap, or else deliberately springs it first. I 
have been told of bears which spring traps by 
rolling across them, the iron jaws slipping harm- 
lessly off the big round body. An old horse is 
the most common bait. 

It is, of course, all right to trap bears when 
they are followed merely as vermin or for the 
sake of the fur. Occasionally, however, himters 
who are out merely for sport adopt this method; 
but this shoiild never be done. To shoot a 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 71 

trapped bear for sport is a thoroughly unsports- 
manlike proceeding. A ftinny plea sometimes ad- 
vanced in its favor is that it is " dangerous." No 
doubt in exceptional instances this is true ; ex- 
actly as it is true that in exceptional instances it 
is '' dangerous " for a butcher to knock over a steer 
in the slaughter-house. A bear caught only by the 
toes may wrench itself free as the hunter comes 
near, and attack him with pain-maddened fury; 
or if followed at once, and if the trap and bar are 
light, it may be found in some thicket, still free, 
and in a frenzy of rage. But even in such cases the 
beast has been crippled, and though crazy with 
pain and anger is easily dealt with by a good shot ; 
while ordinarily the poor brute is found in the last 
stages of exhaustion, tied tight to a tree where 
the log or bar has caught, its teeth broken to 
splintered stumps by rabid snaps at the cruel 
trap and chain. Some trappers kill the trapped 
grislies with a revolver; so that it may easily be 
seen that the sport is not normally dangerous. 
Two of my own cowboys, Seawell and Dow, were 
originally from Maine, where they had trapped 
a number of black bears ; and they always killed 
them either with a hatchet or a small 3 2 -calibre 
revolver. One of them, Seawell, once came near 
being mauled by a trapped bear, seemingly at the 
last gasp, which he approached incautiously with 
his hatchet. 



72 The Wilderness Hunter 

There is, however, one very real danger to 
which the solitary bear-trapper is exposed, the 
danger of being caught in his own trap. The 
huge jaws of the gin are easy to spring and most 
hard to open. If an unwary passer-by should 
tread between them and be caught by the leg, 
his fate would be doubtful, though he would 
probably die under the steadily growing torment 
of the merciless iron jaws, as they pressed ever 
deeper into the sore flesh and broken bones. But 
if caught by the arms, while setting or fixing the 
trap, his fate would be in no doubt at all, for it 
would be impossible for the stoutest man to free 
himself by any means. Terrible stories are told 
of solitary mountain hunters who disappeared, 
and were found years later in the lonely wilder- 
ness, as mouldering skeletons, the shattered bones 
of the forearms still held in the rusty jaws of 
the gin. 

Doubtless the grisly could be successfully 
hunted with dogs, if the latter were carefully 
bred and trained to the purpose, but as yet this 
has not been done, and though dogs are some- 
times used as adjuncts in grisly hunting they are 
rarely of much service. It is sometimes said 
that very small dogs are the best for this end. 
But this is only so with grislies that have never 
been himted. In such a case the big bear some- 
times becomes so irritated with the bouncing, 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 7^ 

yapping little terriers or fice-dogs that he may 
try to catch them and thus permit the hunter to 
creep upon him. But the minute he realizes, as he 
speedily does, that the man is his real foe, he pays 
no further heed whatever to the little dogs, who 
can then neither bring him to bay nor hinder his 
flight. Ordinary hounds, of the kinds used in 
the South for fox, deer, wild-cat, and black bear, 
are but little better. I have known one or two 
men who at different times tried to hunt the 
grisly with a pack of hounds and fice-dogs wonted 
to the chase of the black bear, but they never 
met with success. This was probably largely 
owing to the nature of the country in which they 
himted, a vast tangled mass of forest and craggy 
motmtain; but it was also due to the utter in- 
ability of the dogs to stop the quarry from break- 
ing bay when it wished. Several times a grisly 
was bayed, but always in some inaccessible spot 
which it took hard climbing to reach, and the 
dogs were never able to hold the beast until the 
himters came up. 

Still a well-trained pack of large hounds, which 
were both bold and cunning, could doubtless bay 
even a grisly. Such dogs are the big half-breed 
hounds sometimes used in the Alleghanies of West 
Virginia, which are trained not merely to nip a 
bear, but to grip him by the hock as he runs 
and either throw him or twirl him roimd. A 



74 The Wilderness Hunter 

grisly could not disregard a wary and power- 
ful hound capable of performing this trick, 
even though he paid small heed to mere barking 
and occasional nipping. Nor do I doubt that it 
would be possible to get together a pack of 
many large, fierce dogs, trained to dash straight 
at the head and hold on like a vice, which could 
fairly master a grisly and, though unable, of 
course, to kill him, would worry him breathless 
and hold him down so that he could be slain with 
ease. There have been instances in which five 
or six of the big so-called bloodhounds of the 
Southern States — not pure bloodhounds at all, 
but huge, fierce, ban-dogs, with a cross of the 
ferocious Cuban bloodhound, to give them good 
scenting powers — ^have by themselves mastered 
the cougar and the black bear. Such instances 
occurred in the hunting history of my own fore- 
fathers on my mother's side, who during the last 
half of the eighteenth, and the first half of the 
present, century lived in Georgia and over the 
border in what are now Alabama and Florida. 
These big dogs can only overcome such foes by 
rushing in in a body and grappling all together; 
if they hang back, lunging and snapping, a cou- 
gar or bear will destroy them one by one. With 
a quarry so huge and redoubtable as the grisly, 
no number of dogs, however large and fierce, 
could overcome him unless they all rushed on 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 75 

him in a mass, the first in the charge seizing by 
the head or throat. If the dogs hung back, or if 
there were only a few of them, or if they did not 
seize around the head, they would be destroyed 
without an effort. It is murder to slip merely 
one or two close-quarter dogs at a grisly. Twice 
I have known a man take a large bulldog with 
his pack when after one of these big bears, and 
in each case the result was the same. In one 
instance the bear was trotting when the bulldog 
seized it by the cheek, and without so much as 
altering its gait, it brushed off the hanging dog 
with a blow from the fore paw that broke the 
latter' s back. In the other instance the bear had 
come to bay, and when seized by the ear it got 
the dog's body up to its jaws, and tore out the 
life with one crunch. 

A small number of dogs must rely on their 
activity, and must hamper the bear's escape by 
inflicting a severe bite and avoiding the counter- 
stroke. The only dog I ever heard of which, 
single-handed, was really of service in stopping 
a grisly, was a big Mexican sheep-dog, once owned 
by the hunter Tazewell Woody. It was an, agile 
beast with powerful jaws, and possessed both in- 
telligence and a fierce, resolute temper. Woody 
killed three grislies with its aid. It attacked 
with equal caution and ferocity, rushing at the 
bear as the latter ran, and seizing the outstretched 



76 The Wilderness Hunter 

hock with a grip of iron, stopping the bear short, 
but letting go before the angry beast could whirl 
round and seize it. It was so active and wary 
that it always escaped damage; and it was so 
strong and bit so severely that the bear could 
not possibly run from it at any speed. In conse- 
quence, if it once came to close quarters with its 
quarry, Woody could always get near enough 
for a shot. 

Hitherto, however, the mountain hunters — as 
distinguished from the trappers — who have fol- 
lowed the grisly have relied almost solely on 
their rifles. In my own case about half the bears 
I have killed I stumbled across almost by acci- 
dent; and probably this proportion holds good 
generally. The hunter may be after bear at the 
time, or he may be after blacktail deer or elk, 
the common game in most of the hatmts of the 
grisly; or he may merely be travelling through 
the country or prospecting for gold. Suddenly 
he comes over the edge of a cut bank, or round 
the sharp spur of a mountain or the shoulder of 
a cliff which walls in a ravine, or else the indis- 
tinct game trail he has been following through 
the great trees twists sharply to one side to avoid 
a rock or a mass of down timber, and, behold, he 
surprises Old Ephraim digging for roots, or mimch- 
ing berries, or slouching along the path, or per- 
haps rising suddenly from the lush, rank plants 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear n 

amid which he has been lying. Or it may be 
that the bear will be spied afar rooting in an open 
glade or on a bare hillside. 

In the still-hunt proper it is necessary to find 
some favorite feeding-groimd, where there are 
many roots or berry-bearing bushes, or else to 
lure the grisly to a carcass. This last method of 
"baiting" for bear is imder ordinary circum- 
stances the only way which affords even a mod- 
erately fair chance of killing them. They are 
very cunning, with the sharpest of noses, and 
where they have had experience of hunters 
they dwell only in cover where it is almost im- 
possible for the best of still-hunters to approach 
them. 

Nevertheless, in favorable ground a man can 
often find and kill them by fair stalking, in berry- 
time, or more especially in the early spring, be- 
fore the snow has gone from the mountains, and 
while the bears are driven by hunger to roam 
much abroad and sometimes to seek their food in 
the open. In such cases the still-hunter is stir- 
ring by the earliest dawn, and walks with stealthy 
speed to some high point of observation from 
which he can overlook the feeding-grounds where 
he has previously discovered sign. From the 
coign of vantage he scans the country far and 
near, either with his own keen eyes or with power- 
ful glasses; and he must combine patience and 



y^ The Wilderness Hunter 

good sight with the abiHty to traverse long dis- 
tances noiselessly and yet at speed. He may 
spend two or three hours sitting still and look- 
ing over a vast tract of country before he will 
suddenly spy a bear ; or he may see nothing after 
the most careful search in a given place, and must 
then go on half a dozen miles to another, watch- 
ing warily as he walks, and continuing this possi- 
bly for several days before getting a glimpse of 
his game. If the bear are digging roots, or other- 
wise procuring their food on the bare hillsides 
and table-lands, it is of course comparatively 
easy to see them; and it is under such circum- 
stances that this kind of hunting is most success- 
ful. Once seen, the actual stalk may take two 
or three hours, the nature of the ground and 
the direction of the wind often necessitating a 
long circuit; perhaps a gully, a rock, or a fallen 
log offers a chance for an approach to within 
two hundred yards, and although the hunter will, 
if possible, get much closer than this, yet even at 
such a distance a bear is a large enough mark to 
warrant risking a shot. 

Usually the berry-grounds do not offer such 
favorable opportunities, as they often lie in thick 
timber, or are covered so densely with bushes as 
to obstruct the view; and they are rarely com- 
manded by a favorable spot from which to spy. 
On the other hand, as already said, bears occa- 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 79 

sionally forget all their watchfulness while de- 
vouring fruit, and make such a noise rending and 
tearing the bushes that, if once found, a man can 
creep upon them unobserved. 



CHAPTER IV 

HUNTING THE GRISLY 

IF out in the late fall or early spring, it is often 
possible to follow a bear's trail in the snow; 
having come upon it either by chance or 
hard hunting, or else having found where it 
leads from some carcass on which the beast has 
been feeding. In the pursuit one must exercise 
great caution, as at such times the hunter is easily 
seen a long way off, and game is always especially 
watchful for any foe that may follow its trail. 

Once I killed a grisly in this manner. It was 
early in the fall, but snow lay on the groimd, 
while the gray weather boded a storm. My camp 
was in a bleak, wind-swept valley, high among 
the mountains which form the divide between 
the head-waters of the Salmon and Clarke's Fork 
of the Columbia. All night I had lain in my 
buffalo-bag, under the lee of a windbreak of 
branches, in the clump of fir-trees, where I had 
halted the preceding evening. At my feet ran a 
rapid mountain torrent, its bed choked with ice- 
covered rocks ; I had been lulled to sleep by the 
stream's splashing murmur, and the loud moan- 

80 



Hunting the Grisly 8i 

ing of the wind along the naked cliffs. At dawn 
I rose and shook myself free of the buffalo-robe, 
coated with hoar-frost. The ashes of the fire 
were lifeless; in the dim morning the air was 
bitter cold. I did not linger a moment, but 
snatched up my rifle, pulled on my fur cap and 
gloves, and strode off up a side ravine; as I 
walked I ate some mouthfuls of venison, left over 
from supper. 

Two hours of toil up the steep mountain brought 
me to the top of a spur. The sun had risen, but 
was hidden behind a bank of sullen clouds. On 
the divide I halted, and gazed out over a vast 
landscape, inconceivably wild and dismal. Around 
me towered the stupendous mountain masses 
which make up the backbone of the Rockies. 
From my feet, as far as I could see, stretched a 
rugged and barren chaos of ridges and detached 
rock masses. Behind me, far below, the stream 
woimd like a silver ribbon, fringed with dark 
conifers and the changing, dying foliage of poplar 
and quaking aspen. In front the bottoms of the 
valley were filled with the sombre evergreen forest, 
dotted here and there with black, ice-skimmed 
tarns ; and the dark spruces clustered also in the 
higher gorges, and were scattered thinly along the 
mountain-sides. The snow which had fallen lay 
in drifts and streaks, while, where the wind had 
scope, it was blown off, and the ground left bare. 

VOL. II. — 6. 



S2 The Wilderness Hunter 

For two hours I walked onwards across the 
ridges and valleys. Then among some scattered 
spruces, where the snow lay to the depth of half 
a foot, I suddenly came on the fresh, broad trail 
of a grisly. The brute was evidently roam- 
ing restlessly about in search of a winter den, but 
willing, in passing, to pick up any food that lay 
handy. At once I took the trail, travelling above 
and to one side, and keeping a sharp lookout 
ahead. The bear was going across wind, and 
this made my task easy. I walked rapidly 
though cautiously; and it was only in crossing 
the large patches of bare ground that I had to fear 
making a noise. Elsewhere the snow muffled my 
footsteps, and made the trail so plain that I 
scarcely had to waste a glance upon it, bending 
my eyes always to the front. 

At last, peering cautiously over a ridge crowned 
with broken rocks, I saw my quarry, a big burly 
bear, with silvered fur. He had halted on an 
open hillside, and was busily digging up the 
caches of some rock gophers or squirrels. He 
seemed absorbed in his work, and the stalk was 
easy. Slipping quietly back, I ran towards the 
end of the spur, and in ten minutes struck a ravine, 
of which one branch ran past within seventy 
yards of where the bear was working. In this 
ravine was a rather close growth of stunted ever- 
greens, affording good cover, although in one or 



Hunting the Grisly 83 

two places I had to lie down and crawl through 
the snow. When I reached the point for which 
I was aiming, the bear had just finished rooting, 
and was starting off. A slight whistle brought 
him to a standstill, and I drew a bead behind 
his shoulder, and low down, resting the rifle across 
the crooked branch of a dwarf spruce. At the 
crack he ran off at speed, making no sound, but 
the thick spatter of blood splashes, showing clear 
on the white snow, betrayed the mortal nature 
of the wound. For some minutes I followed the 
trail; and then, topping a ridge, I saw the dark 
bulk lying motionless in a snowdrift at the foot 
of a low rock- wall, down which he had tumbled. 

The usual practice of the still-hunter who is 
after grisly is to toll it to baits. The htmter either 
lies in ambush near the carcass, or approaches it 
stealthily when he thinks the bear is at its meal. 

One day while camped near the Bitter Root 
Mountains in Montana I found that a bear had 
been feeding on the carcass of a moose which lay 
some five miles from the little open glade in which 
my tent was pitched, and I made up my mind 
to try to get a shot at it that afternoon. I stayed 
in camp till about three o'clock, lying lazily back 
on the bed of sweet-smelling evergreen boughs, 
watching the pack-ponies as they stood imder 
the pines on the edge of the open, stamping now 
and then, and switching their tails. The air 



84 The Wilderness Hunter 

was still, the sky a glorious blue; at that hour 
in the afternoon even the September sun was hot. 
The smoke from the smouldering logs of the camp- 
fire curled thinly upwards. Little chipmunks 
scuttled out from their holes to the packs, which 
lay in a heap on the ground, and then scuttled 
madly back again. A couple of drab-colored 
whisky-jacks, with bold mien and fearless bright 
eyes, hopped and fluttered round, picking up the 
scraps, and uttering an extraordinary variety of 
notes, mostly discordant ; so tame were they that 
one of them lit on my outstretched arm as I half 
dozed, basking in the sunshine. 

When the shadows began to lengthen, I shoul- 
dered my rifle and plunged into the woods. At 
first my route lay along a mountain-side; then 
for half a mile over a windfall, the dead timber 
piled about in crazy confusion. After that I 
went up the bottom of a valley by a little brook, 
the ground being carpeted with a sponge of 
soaked moss. At the head of this brook was a 
pond covered with water-lilies; and a scramble 
through a rocky pass took me into a high, wet 
valley, where the thick growth of spruce was 
broken by occasional strips of meadow. In this 
valley the moose carcass lay, well at the upper 
end. 

In moccasined feet I trod softly through the 
sotmdless woods. Under the dark branches it 



Hunting the Grisly 85 

was already dusk, and the air had the cool chill 
of evening. As I neared the clump where the 
body lay, I walked with redoubled caution, 
watching and listening with strained alertness. 
Then I heard a twig snap ; and my blood leaped, 
for I knew the bear was at his supper. In another 
moment I saw his shaggy, brown form. He was 
working with all his awkward strength, trying to 
bury the carcass, twisting it to one side and the 
other with wonderful ease. Once he got angry, 
and suddenly gave it a tremendous cuff with his 
paw; in his bearing he had something half hu- 
morous, half devilish. I crept up within forty 
yards ; but for several minutes he would not keep 
his head still. Then something attracted his at- 
tention in the forest, and he stood motionless 
looking towards it, broadside to me, with his 
fore paws planted on the carcass. This gave me 
my chance. I drew a very fine bead between 
his eye and ear, and pulled trigger. He dropped 
like a steer when struck with a pole-axe. 

If there is a good hiding-place handy it is bet- 
ter to lie in wait at the carcass. One day on the 
head- waters of the Madison, I found that a bear 
was coming to an elk I had shot some days be- 
fore; and I at once determined to ambush the 
beast when he came back that evening. The 
carcass lay in the middle of a valley a quarter 
of a mile broad. The bottom of this valley was 



86 The Wilderness Hunter 

covered by an open forest of tall pines; a thick 
jungle of smaller evergreens marked where the 
mountains rose on either hand. There were a 
number of large rocks scattered here and there, 
one, of very convenient shape, being only some 
seventy or eighty yards from the carcass. Up 
this I clambered. It hid me perfectly, and on 
its top was a carpet of soft pine-needles, on which 
I could lie at my ease. 

Hour after hour passed by. A little black 
woodpecker with a yellow crest ran nimbly up 
and down the tree-trunks for some time and then 
flitted away with a party of chickadees and nut- 
hatches. Occasionally a Clarke's crow soared 
about overhead or clung in any position to the 
swaying end of a pine branch, chattering and 
screaming. Flocks of cross-bills, with wavy flight 
and plaintive calls, flew to a small mineral lick 
near by, where they scraped the clay with their 
queer little beaks. 

As the westering sun sank out of sight beyond 
the mountains these sounds of bird-life gradually 
died away. Under the great pines the evening 
was still with the silence of primeval desolation. 
The sense of sadness and loneliness, the melan- 
choly of the wilderness, came over me like a 
spell. Every slight noise made my pulses throb 
as I lay motionless on the rock gazing intently 
into the gathering gloom. I began to fear that 



Hunting the Grisly 87 

it would grow too dark to shoot before the grisly 
came. 

Suddenly and without warning, the great bear 
stepped out of the bushes and trod across the 
pine-needles with such swift and silent footsteps 
that its bulk seemed unreal. It was very cau- 
tious, continually halting to peer around; and 
once it stood up on its hind legs and looked long 
down the valley towards the red west. As it 
reached the carcass I put a bullet between its 
shoulders. It rolled over, while the woods re- 
sounded with its savage roaring. Immediately 
it struggled to its feet and staggered off; and 
fell again to the next shot, squalling and yelling. 
Twice this was repeated; the brute being one of 
those bears which greet every wound with a great 
outcry, and sometimes seem to lose their feet 
when hit — although they will occasionally fight 
as savagely as their more silent brethren. In 
this case the wounds were mortal, and the bear 
died before reaching the edge of the thicket. 

I spent much of the fall of 1889 hunting on 
the head-waters of the Salmon and Snake in Idaho 
and along the Montana boundary line from the 
Big Hole Basin and the head of the Wisdom 
River to the neighborhood of Red Rock Pass and 
to the north and west of Henry's Lake. During 
the last fortnight my companion was the old 
mountain -man, already mentioned, named Grif- 



88 The Wilderness Hunter 

feth or Griffin — I cannot tell which, as he was 
always called either "Hank" or "GriflE." He 
was a crabbedly honest old fellow, and a very 
skilful hiuiter ; but he was worn out with age and 
rheumatism, and his temper had failed even 
faster than his bodily strength. He showed me 
a greater variety of game than I had ever seen 
before in so short a time; nor did I ever before 
or after make so successful a hunt. But he was 
an exceedingly disagreeable companion on ac- 
count of his surly, moody ways. I generally had 
to get up first, to kindle the fire and make ready 
breakfast, and he was very quarrelsome. Finally, 
during my absence from camp one day, while not 
very far from Red Rock Pass, he found my whisky- 
flask, which I kept purely for emergencies, and 
drank all the contents. When I came back he 
was quite drunk. This was unbearable, and after 
some high words I left him, and struck oif home- 
ward through the woods on my own account. 
We had with us four pack and saddle horses; 
and of these I took a very intelligent and gentle 
little bronco mare, which possessed the invalu- 
able trait of always staying near camp, even when 
not hobbled. I was not hampered with much 
of an outfit, having only my buffalo sleeping-bag, 
a fur coat, and my washing kit, with a couple of 
spare pairs of socks and some handkerchiefs. A 
frying-pan, some salt, flour, baking-powder, a 



Hunting the Grisly 89 

small chunk of salt pork, and a hatchet, made 
up a light pack, which, with the bedding, I fas- 
tened across the stock saddle by means of a rope 
and a spare packing cinch. My cartridges and 
knife were in my belt ; my compass and matches, 
as always, in my pocket. I walked, while the 
little mare followed almost like a dog, often with- 
out my having to hold the lariat which served as 
halter. 

The country was for the most part fairly open, 
as I kept near the foothills where glades and 
little prairies broke the pine forest. The trees 
were of small size. There was no regular trail, 
but the course was easy to keep, and I had no 
trouble of any kind save on the second day. That 
afternoon I was following a stream which at last 
"canyoned up," that is, sank to the bottom of a 
canyon-like ravine impassable for a horse. I 
started up a side valley, intending to cross from 
its head coulies to those of another valley which 
would lead in below the canyon. 

However, I got enmeshed in the tangle of wind- 
ing valleys at the foot of the steep mountains, and 
as dusk was coming on I halted and camped in a 
little open spot by the side of a small, noisy brook, 
with crystal water. The place was carpeted with 
soft, wet, green moss, dotted red with the kinni- 
kinic berries, and at its edge, imder the trees, 
where the ground was dry, I threw down the 



90 The Wilderness Hunter 

buf!alo-bed on the mat of sweet-smelling pine- 
needles. Making camp took but a moment. I 
opened the pack, tossed the bedding on a smooth 
spot, knee-haltered the little mare, dragged up a 
few dry logs, and then strolled off, rifle on shoul- 
der, through the frosty gloaming, to see if I could 
pick up a grouse for supper. 

For half a mile I walked quickly and silently 
over the pine-needles, across a succession of slight 
ridges separated by narrow, shallow valleys. The 
forest here was composed of lodge-pole pines, 
which on the ridges grew close together, with tall 
slender trunks, while in the valleys the growth was 
more open. Though the sun was behind the 
moimtains there was yet plenty of light by which 
to shoot, but it was fading rapidly. 

At last, as I was thinking of turning towards 
camp, I stole up to the crest of one of the ridges, 
and looked over into the valley some sixty yards 
off. Immediately I caught the loom of some 
large, dark object; and another glance showed 
me a big grisly walking slowly off with his head 
down. He was quartering to me, and I fired into 
his flank, the bullet, as I afterwards found, rang- 
ing forward and piercing one lung. At the shot 
he uttered a loud, moaning grunt and plimged 
forward at a heavy gallop, while I raced obliquely 
down the hill to cut him off. After going a few 
hundred feet he reached a laurel thicket, some 



Hunting the Grisly 91 

thirty yards broad, and two or three times as 
long, which he did not leave. I ran up to the 
edge and there halted, not liking to venture into 
the mass of twisted, close-growing stems and 
glossy foliage. Moreover, as I halted, I heard 
him utter a peculiar, savage kind of whine from 
the heart of the brush. Accordingly, I began to 
skirt the edge, standing on tiptoe and gazing 
earnestly to see if I could not catch a glimpse of 
his hide. When I was at the narrowest part of 
the thicket, he suddenly left it directly opposite, 
and then wheeled and stood broadside to me on 
the hillside, a little above. He turned his head 
stiffly towards me; scarlet strings of froth hung 
from his lips ; his eyes burned like embers in the 
gloom. 

I held true, aiming behind the shoulder, and 
my bullet shattered the point or lower end of his 
heart, taking out a big nick. Instantly the 
great bear turned with a harsh roar of fury and 
challenge, blowing the bloody foam from his 
mouth so that I saw the gleam of his white fangs ; 
and then he charged straight at me, crashing and 
bounding through the laurel bushes, so that it 
was hard to aim. I waited imtil he came to a 
fallen tree, raking him as he topped it with a 
ball, which entered his chest and went through 
the cavity of his body, but he neither swerved nor 
flinched, and at the moment I did not know that 



92 The Wilderness Hunter 

I had struck him. He came steadily on, and in 
another second was almost upon me. I fired for 
his forehead, but my bullet went low, entering 
his open mouth, smashing his lower jaw and 
going into the neck. I leaped to one side almost 
as I pulled trigger; and through the hanging 
smoke the first thing I saw was his paw as he 
made a vicious side blow at me. The rush of 
his charge carried him past. As he struck he 
lurched forward, leaving a pool of bright blood 
where his muzzle hit the ground; but he recov- 
ered himself and made two or three jumps on- 
wards, while I hurriedly jammed a couple of 
cartridges into the magazine, my rifle holding 
only four, all of which I had fired. Then he 
tried to pull up, but as he did so his muscles 
seemed suddenly to give way, his head drooped, 
and he rolled over and over like a shot rabbit. 
Each of my first three bullets had inflicted a 
mortal woimd. 

It was already twilight, and I merely opened 
the carcass, and then trotted back to camp. Next 
morning I returned and with much labor took off 
the skin. The fur was very fine, the animal being 
in excellent trim, and tmusually bright-colored. 
Unfortimately, in packing it out I lost the skull, 
and had to supply its place with one of plaster. 
The beauty of the trophy, and the memory of 
the circumstances under which I procured it, 



Hunting the Grisly 93 

make me value it perhaps more highly than any- 
other in my house. 

This is the only instance in which I have been 
regularly charged by a grisly. On the whole, the 
danger of himting these great bears has been much 
exaggerated. At the beginning of the present 
century, when white hunters first encoimtered the 
grisly, he was doubtless an exceedingly savage 
beast, prone to attack without provocation, and 
a redoubtable foe to persons armed with the 
clumsy, small-bore, muzzle-loading rifles of the 
day. But at present bitter experience has taught 
him caution. He has been htmted for sport, and 
hunted for his pelt, and hunted for the boimty , and 
hunted as a dangerous enemy to stock, imtil, save 
in the very wildest districts, he has learned to be 
more wary than a deer, and to avoid man's pres- 
ence almost as carefully as the most timid kind 
of game. Except in rare cases, he will not at- 
tack of his own accord, and, as a rule, even when 
wounded, his object is escape rather than battle. 

Still, when fairly brought to bay, or when 
moved by a sudden fit of imgovemable anger, 
the grisly is beyond peradventure a very dan- 
gerous antagonist. The first shot, if taken at a 
bear a good distance off and previously un wounded 
and unharried, is not usually fraught with much 
danger, the startled animal being at the outset 
bent merely on flight. It is always hazardous, 



94 The Wilderness Hunter 

however, to track a wovinded and worried grisly 
into thick cover, and the man who habitually 
follows and kills this chief of American game 
in dense timber, never abandoning the bloody 
trail whithersoever it leads, must show no small 
degree of skill and hardihood, and must not too 
closely cotmt the risk to life or limb. Bears differ 
widely in temper, and occasionally one may be 
found who will not show fight, no matter how 
much he is bullied ; but, as a rule, a hunter must 
be cautious in meddling with a wounded animal 
which has retreated into a dense thicket, and has 
been once or twice roused; and such a beast, 
when it does turn, will usually charge again and 
again, and fight to the last with unconquerable 
ferocity. The short distance at which the bear 
can be seen through the imderbrush, the fury of 
his charge, and his tenacity of life make it neces- 
sary for the hunter on such occasions to have 
steady nerves and a fairly quick and accurate 
aim. It is always well to have two men in fol- 
lowing a wounded bear under such conditions. 
This is not necessary, however, and a good hunter, 
rather than lose his quarry, will, under ordinary 
circumstances, follow and attack it, no matter 
how tangled the fastness in which it has sought 
refuge ; but he must act warily and with the ut- 
most caution and resolution, if he wishes to escape 
a terrible and probably fatal mauling. An ex- 



Hunting the Grisly 95 

perienced hiinter is rarely rash, and never heed- 
less; he will not, when alone, follow a woiinded 
bear into a thicket if, by the exercise of patience, 
skill, and knowledge of the game's habits, he can 
avoid the necessity; but it is idle to talk of the 
feat as something which ought in no case to be 
attempted. While danger ought never to be 
needlessly incurred, it is yet true that the keenest 
zest in sport comes from its presence, and from 
the consequent exercise of the qualities necessary 
to overcome it. The most thrilling moments of 
an American htmter's life are those in which, with 
every sense on the alert, and with nerves stnmg 
to the highest point, he is following alone into 
the heart of its forest fastness the fresh and bloody 
footprints of an angered grisly; and no other 
triumph of American hunting can compare with 
the victory to be thus gained. 

These big bears will not ordinarily charge from 
a distance of over a htmdred yards; but there 
are exceptions to this rule. In the fall of 1890 my 
friend Archibald Rogers was hiinting in Wyom- 
ing, south of the Yellowstone Park, and killed 
seven bears. One, an old he, was out on a bare 
table-land, grubbing for roots, when he was 
spied. It was early in the afternoon, and the 
hunters, who were on a high moimtain slope, ex- 
amined him for some time through their powerful 
glasses before making him out to be a bear. They 



9^ The Wilderness Hunter 

then stalked up to the edge of the wood which 
fringed the table-land on one side, but could get 
no nearer than about three hundred yards, the 
plains being barren of all cover. After waiting 
for a couple of hours, Rogers risked the shot, in 
despair of getting nearer, and wounded the bear, 
though not very seriously. The animal made off, 
almost broadside to, and Rogers ran forward to 
intercept it. As soon as it saw him it turned 
and rushed straight for him, not heeding his 
second shot, and evidently bent on charging home. 
Rogers then waited until it was within twenty 
yards, and brained it with his third bullet. 

In fact, bears differ individually in courage and 
ferocity precisely as men do, or as the Spanish 
bulls, of which it is said that not more than one 
in twenty is fit to stand the combat of the arena. 
One grisly can scarcely be bullied into resistance ; 
the next may fight to the end, against any odds, 
without flinching, or may even attack unprovoked. 
Hence, men of limited experience in this sport, 
generalizing from the actions of the two or three 
bears each has happened to see or kill, often reach 
diametrically opposite conclusions as to the fight- 
ing temper and capacity of the quarry. Even 
old himters — who, indeed, as a class, are very 
narrow-minded and opinionated — often general- 
ize just as rashly as beginners. One will por- 
tray all bears as very dangerous; another will 



Hunting the Grisly 97 

speak and act as if he deemed them of no more 
consequence than so many rabbits. I knew one 
old himter who had killed a score without ever 
seeing one show fight. On the other hand, Dr. 
James G. Merrill, U. S. A., who has had about as 
much experience with bears as I have had, in- 
forms me that he has been charged with the 
utmost determination three times. In each case 
the attack was delivered before the bear was 
woimded or even shot at, the animal being 
roused from his day-bed by the approach of the 
himters, and charging headlong at them from a 
distance of twenty or thirty paces. All three 
bears were killed before they could do any dam- 
age. There was a very remarkable incident 
connected with the killing of one of them. It 
occurred in the northern spurs of the Bighorn 
range. Dr. Merrill, in company with an old 
himter, had climbed down into a deep, narrow 
canyon. The bottom was threaded with well- 
beaten elk trails. While following one of these the 
two men turned a comer of the canyon and were 
instantly charged by an old she-grisly, so close 
that it was only by good luck that one of the 
hurried shots disabled her and caused her to 
tumble over a cut bank where she was easily 
finished. They foimd that she had been lying 
directly across the game trail, on a smooth well- 
beaten patch of bare earth, which looked as if it 

VOL. II.— 7. 



98 The Wilderness Hunter 

had been dug up, refilled, and trampled down. 
Looking curiously at this patch they saw a bit 
of hide only partially covered at one end; dig- 
ging down they found the body of a well-grown 
grisly cub. Its skull had been crushed, and the 
brains licked out, and there were signs of other 
injuries. The hiinters pondered long over this 
strange discovery, and hazarded many guesses as 
to its meaning. At last they decided that prob- 
ably the cub had been killed, and its brains eaten 
out, either by some old male grisly or by a cou- 
gar, that the mother had returned and driven 
away the murderer, and that she had then buried 
the body and lain above it, waiting to wreak her 
vengeance on the first passer-by. 

Old Tazewell Woody, during his thirty years' 
life as a himter in the Rockies and on the great 
plains, killed very many grislies. He always 
exercised much caution in dealing with them; 
and, as it happened, he was by some suitable 
tree in almost every case when he was charged. 
He would accordingly climb the tree (a practice 
of which I do not approve, however), and the 
bear would look up at him and pass on without 
stopping. Once, when he was hunting in the 
motmtains with a companion, the latter, who was 
down in a valley, while Woody was on the hill- 
side, shot at a bear. The first thing Woody 
knew the wounded grisly, running up hill, was 



Hunting the Grisly 99 

almost on him from behind. As he turned it 
seized his rifle in its jaws. He wrenched the rifle 
roimd, while the bear still gripped it, and pulled 
trigger, sending a bullet into its shoulder ; where- 
upon it struck him with its paw, and knocked 
him over the rocks. By good luck he fell in a 
snow bank and was not hurt in the least. Mean- 
while, the bear went on and they never got it. 

Once he had an experience with a bear which 
showed a very curious mixture of rashness and 
cowardice. He and a companion were camped in 
a little tepee or wigwam, with a bright fire in 
front of it, lighting up the night. There was an 
inch of snow on the groimd. Just after they 
went to bed a grisly came close to camp. Their 
dog rushed out and they could hear it bark round 
in the darkness for nearly an hour; then the 
bear drove it off and came right into camp. It 
went close to the fire, picking up the scraps of 
meat and bread, pulled a haunch of venison 
down from a tree, and passed and repassed in 
front of the tepee, paying no heed whatever to 
the two men, who crouched in the doorway talk- 
ing to one another. Once it passed so close that 
Woody could almost have touched it. Finally 
his companion fired into it, and off it ran, badly 
wounded, without an attempt at retaliation. 
Next morning they followed its tracks in the 
snow, and found it a quarter of a mile away. It 



loo The Wilderness Hunter 

was near a pine and had buried itself under the 
loose earth, pine-needles, and snow; Woody's 
companion almost walked over it, and, putting 
his rifle to its ear, blew out its brains. 

In all his experience Woody had personally 
seen but four men who were badly mauled by 
bears. Three of these were merely wounded. 
One was bitten terribly in the back. Another 
had an arm partially chewed off. The third was 
a man named George Dow, and the accident 
happened to him on the Yellowstone, about the 
year 1878. He was with a pack-animal at the 
time, leading it on a trail through a wood. See- 
ing a big she -bear with cubs he yelled at her; 
whereat she ran away, but only to cache her cubs, 
and in a minute, having hidden them, came rac- 
ing back at him. His pack-animal being slow, he 
started to climb a tree; but before he could get 
far enough up she caught him, almost biting a 
piece out of the calf of his leg, pulled him down, 
bit and cuffed him two or three times, and then 
went on her way. 

The only time Woody ever saw a man killed by 
a bear was once when he had given a touch of 
variety to his life by shipping on a New Bedford 
whaler which had touched at one of the Puget 
Soimd ports. The whaler went up to a part of 
Alaska where bears were very plentiful and bold. 
One day a couple of boats' crews landed; and 



Hunting the Grisly loi 

the men, who were armed only with an occasional 
harpoon or lance, scattered over the beach, one 
of them, a Frenchman, wading into the water 
after shell-fish. Suddenly a bear emerged from 
some bushes and charged among the astonished 
sailors, who scattered in every direction ; but the 
bear, said Woody, '* just had it in for that French- 
man," and went straight at him. Shrieking with 
terror he retreated up to his neck in the water; 
but the bear plunged in after him, caught him, 
and disembowelled him. One of the Yankee 
mates then fired a bomb lance into the bear's 
hips, and the savage beast hobbled off into the 
dense cover of the low scrub, where the enraged 
sailor folk were imable to get at it. 

The truth is that while the grisly generally 
avoids a battle if possible, and often acts with 
great cowardice, it is never safe to take liberties 
with him; he usually fights desperately and dies 
hard when woimded and cornered, and exceptional 
individuals take the aggressive on small provo- 
cation. 

During the years I lived on the frontier I came 
in contact with many persons who had been se- 
verely mauled or even crippled for life by grislies ; 
and a number of cases where they killed men 
outright were also brought under my ken. Gen- 
erally, these accidents, as was natural, occurred 
to htmters who had roused or woimded the game. 



I02 The Wilderness Hunter 

A fighting bear sometimes uses his claws and 
sometimes his teeth. I have never known one to 
attempt to kill an antagonist by hugging, in spite 
of the popular belief to this effect; though he 
will sometimes draw an enemy towards him with 
his paws the better to reach him with his teeth, 
and to hold him so that he cannot escape from 
the biting. Nor does the bear often advance on 
his hind legs to the attack; though, if the man 
has come close to him in thick underbrush, or 
has stumbled on him in his lair ima wares, he 
will often rise up in this fashion and strike a 
single blow. He will also rise in clinching with a 
man on horseback. In 1882, a mounted Indian 
was killed in this manner on one of the river bot- 
toms some miles below where my ranch-house 
now stands, not far from the junction of the 
Beaver and Little Missouri. The bear had been 
himted into a thicket by a band of Indians, in 
whose company my informant, a white squaw- 
man, with whom I afterward did some trading, 
was travelling. One of them, in the excitement of 
the pursuit, rode across the end of the thicket ; as 
he did so the great beast sprang at him with 
wonderful quickness, rising on its hind legs and 
knocking over the horse and rider with a single 
sweep of its terrible fore paws. It then turned on 
the fallen man and tore him open, and though the 
other Indians came promptly to the rescue and 



Hunting the Grisly 103 

slew his assailant, they were not in time to save 
their comrade's Hfe. 

A bear is apt to rely mainly on his teeth or 
claws, according to whether his efforts are directed 
primarily to killing his foe or to making good his 
own escape. In the latter event he trusts chiefly 
to his claws. If cornered, he of course makes a 
rush for freedom, and in that case he downs any 
man who is in his way with a sweep of his great 
paw, put passes on without stopping to bite him. 
If while sleeping or resting in thick brush some 
one suddenly stumbles on him close up he pur- 
sues the same course, less from anger than from 
fear, being surprised and startled. Moreover, if 
attacked at close quarters by men and dogs he 
strikes right and left in defence. 

Sometimes what is called a charge is rather an 
effort to get away. In localities where he has 
been himted, a bear, like every other kind of 
game, is always on the lookout for an attack, and 
is prepared at any moment for immediate flight. 
He seems ever to have in his mind, whether feed- 
ing, stinning himself, or merely roaming aroimd, 
the direction — usually towards the thickest cover 
or most broken ground — in which he intends to 
run if molested. When shot at he instantly starts 
towards this place; or he may be so confused 
that he simply rims he knows not whither; and 
in either event he may take a line that leads almost 



I04 The Wilderness Hunter 

directly to or by the hunter, although he had at 
first not thought of charging. In such a case he 
usually strikes a single knock-down blow and gal- 
lops on without halting, though that one blow may 
have taken life. If the claws are long and fairly 
sharp (as in early spring, or even in the fall, if the 
animal has been working over soft ground) they 
add immensely to the effect of the blow, for they 
cut like blunt axes. Often, however, late in the 
season, and if the ground has been dry and hard, 
or rocky, the claws are worn down nearly to the 
quick, and the blow is then given mainly with the 
tmderside of the paw; although even under this 
disadvantage a thump from a big bear will down 
a horse or smash in a man's breast. The hunter 
Hofer once lost a horse in this manner. He shot 
at and wounded a bear which rushed off, as ill 
luck would have it, past the place where his horse 
was picketed; probably more in fright than in 
anger, it struck the poor beast a blow which, in 
the end, proved mortal. 

If a bear means mischief and charges, not to 
escape but to do damage, its aim is to grapple 
with or throw down its foe and bite him to death. 
The charge is made at a gallop, the animal some- 
times coming on silently with the mouth shut, 
and sometimes with the jaws open, the lips drawn 
back and teeth showing, uttering at the same 
time a succession of roars or of savage rasping 



Hunting the Grisly 105 

snarls. Certain bears charge without any bluster 
and perfectly straight ; while others first threaten 
and bully, and even when charging stop to growl, 
shake the head, and bite at a bush or knock holes 
in the grotind with their fore paws. Again, some 
of them charge home with a ferocious resolution 
which their extreme tenacity of life renders es- 
pecially dangerous; while others can be turned 
or driven back even by a shot which is not mor- 
tal. They show the same variability in their 
behavior when woimded. Often a big bear, es- 
pecially if charging, will receive a bullet in per- 
fect silence, without flinching or seeming to pay 
any heed to it; while another will cry out and 
tumble about, and if charging, even though it 
may not abandon the attack, will pause for a 
moment to whine or bite at the wound. 

Sometimes a single bite causes death. One of 
the most successful bear hunters I ever knew, an 
old fellow whose real name I never heard as he 
was always called Old Ike, was killed in this way 
in the spring or early summer of 1886 on one of 
the head-waters of the Salmon. He was a very- 
good shot, had killed nearly a himdred bears with 
the rifle, and, although often charged, had never 
met with any accident, so that he had grown some- 
what careless. On the day in question he had 
met a couple of mining prospectors and was trav- 
elling with them, when a grisly crossed his path. 



io6 The Wilderness Hunter 

The old hunter immediately ran after it, rapidly 
gaining, as the bear did not hurry when it saw 
itself pursued, but slouched slowly forwards, oc- 
casionally turning its head to grin and growl. 
It soon went into a dense grove of young spruce, 
and as the hunter reached the edge it charged 
fiercely out. He fired one hasty shot, evidently 
woimding the animal, but not seriously enough 
to stop or cripple it; and as his two companions 
ran forward they saw the bear seize him with its 
wide-spread jaws, forcing him to the groimd. 
They shouted and fired, and the beast abandoned 
the fallen man on the instant and sullenly re- 
treated into the spruce thicket, whither they 
dared not follow it. Their friend was at his last 
gasp; for the whole side of his chest had been 
crushed in by the one bite, the lungs showing be- 
tween the rent ribs. 

Very often, however, a bear does not kill a man 
by one bite, but after throwing him lies on him, 
biting him to death. Usually, if no assistance is 
at hand, such a man is doomed ; although, if he 
pretends to be dead, and has the nerve to lie 
quiet under very rough treatment, it is just possi- 
ble that the bear may leave him alive, perhaps 
after half burying what it believes to be the body. 
In a very few exceptional instances, men of ex- 
traordinary prowess with the knife have suc- 
ceeded in beating off a bear, and even in mortally 



Hunting the Grisly 107 

wounding it, but in most cases a single-handed 
struggle, at close quarters, with a grisly bent on 
mischief, means death. 

Occasionally, the bear, although vicious, is also 
frightened, and passes on after giving one or two 
bites; and frequently a man who is knocked 
down is rescued by his friends before he is killed, 
the big beast mayhap using his weapons with 
clumsiness. So a bear may kill a foe with a single 
blow of its mighty forearm, either crushing in the 
head or chest by sheer force of sinew, or else tear- 
ing open the body with its formidable claws ; and 
so on the other hand he may, and often does, 
merely disfigure or maim the foe by a hurried 
stroke. Hence it is common to see men who 
have escaped the clutches of a grisly, but only at 
the cost of features marred beyond recognition, 
or a body rendered almost helpless for life. 
Almost every old resident of western Montana or 
northern Idaho has known two or three unfortu- 
nates who have suffered in this manner. I have 
myself met one such man in Helena, and another 
in Missoula; both were living at least as late as 
1889, the date at which I last saw them. One 
had been partially scalped by a bear's teeth ; the 
animal was very old, and so the fangs did not 
enter the skull. The other had been bitten across 
the face, and the wounds never entirely healed, 
so that his disfigured visage was hideous to behold. 



io8 The Wilderness Hunter 

Most of these accidents occur in following a 
woiinded or worried bear into thick cover; and 
under such circumstances an animal apparently 
hopelessly disabled, or in the death throes, may 
with a last effort kill one or more of its assailants. 
In 1874, my wife's uncle, Captain Alexander 
Moore, U. S. A., and my friend Captain Bates, 
with some men of the 2d and 3d Cavalry, were 
scouting in Wyoming, near the Freezeout Moun- 
tains. One morning they roused a bear in the 
open prairie and followed it at full speed as it 
ran towards a small creek. At one spot in the 
creek beavers had built a dam, and, as usual in 
such places, there was a thick growth of bushes 
and willow saplings. Just as the bear reached 
the edge of this little jimgle it was struck by 
several balls, both of its fore legs being broken. 
Nevertheless it managed to shove itself forward 
on its hind legs, and partly rolled, partly pushed 
itself into the thicket, the bushes though low be- 
ing so dense that its body was at once completely 
hidden. The thicket was a mere patch of brush, 
not twenty yards across in any direction. The 
leading troopers reached the edge almost as the 
bear tumbled in. One of them, a tall and power- 
ful man named Miller, instantly dismounted and 
prepared to force his way in among the dwarfed 
willows, which were but breast-high. Among the 
men who had ridden up were Moore and Bates, 



Hunting the Grisly 109 

and also the two famous scouts, Btiffalo Bill — 
long a companion of Captain Moore — and Cali- 
fornia Joe, Custer's faithful follower. California 
Joe had spent almost all his life on the plains and 
in the moimtains, as a hunter and Indian fighter ; 
and when he saw the trooper about to rush into 
the thicket he called out to him not to do so, 
warning him of the danger. But the man was a 
very reckless fellow and he answered by jeering 
at the old himter for his over-caution in being 
afraid of a crippled bear. California Joe made no 
further effort to dissuade him, remarking quietly : 
** Very well, sonny, go in; it 's your own affair," 
Miller then leaped off the bank on which they 
stood and strode into the thicket, holding his rifle 
at the port. Hardly had he taken three steps 
when the bear rose in front of him, roaring with 
rage and pain. It was so close that the man had 
no chance to fire. Its fore arms hung motionless, 
and as it reared unsteadily on its hind legs, lung- 
ing forward at him, he seized it by the ears and 
strove to hold it back. His strength was very 
great, and he actually kept the huge head from 
his face and braced himself so that he was not 
overthrown ; but the bear twisted its muzzle from 
side to side, biting and tearing the man*s arms 
and shoulders. Another soldier jumping down 
slew the beast with a single bullet, and rescued 
his comrade; but though alive he was too badly 



no The Wilderness Hunter 

hurt to recover and died after reaching the hos- 
pital. Buffalo Bill was given the bear-skin, and 
I believe has it now. 

The instances in which hunters who have rashly 
followed grislies into thick cover have been killed 
or severely mauled might be multiplied indefi- 
nitely. I have myself known of eight cases in 
which men have met their deaths in this manner. 

It occasionally happens that a cunning old 
grisly will lie so close that the hunter almost 
steps on him; and he then rises suddenly with 
a loud, coughing growl and strikes down or seizes 
the man before the latter can fire off his rifle. 
More rarely a bear which is both vicious and 
crafty deliberately permits the hunter to approach 
fairly near to, or perhaps pass by, its hiding-place, 
and then suddenly charges him with such rapidity 
that he has barely time for the most hurried shot. 
The danger in such a case is of course great. 

Ordinarily, however, even in the brush, the 
bear's object is to slink away, not to fight, and 
very many are killed even under the most unfa- 
vorable circumstances without accident. If an un- 
wounded bear thinks itself unobserved it is not 
apt to attack; and in thick cover it is really as- 
tonishing to see how one of these large animals 
can hide, and how closely it will lie when there is 
danger. About twelve miles below my ranch 
there are some large river bottoms and creek 



Hunting the Grisly 1 1 1 

bottoms covered with a matted mass of cotton- 
wood, box-alders, bullberry bushes, rosebushes, 
ash, wild plums, and other bushes. These bot- 
toms have harbored bears ever since I first saw 
them; but, though often in company with a large 
party, I have repeatedly beaten through them, 
and though we must at times have been very 
near indeed to the game, we never so much as 
heard it run. 

When bears are shot, as they usually must be, 
in open timber or on the bare mountain, the risk 
is very much less. Htmdreds may thus be killed 
with comparatively little danger ; yet even imder 
these circumstances they will often charge, and 
sometimes make their charge good. The spice of 
danger, especially to a man armed with a good 
repeating rifle, is only enough to add zest to the 
chase, and the chief triumph is in outwitting 
the wary quarry and getting within range. Ordi- 
narily the only excitement is in the stalk, the bear 
doing nothing more than to keep a keen lookout 
and manifest the utmost anxiety to get away. 
As is but natural, accidents occasionally occur; 
yet they are usually due more to some failure in 
man or weapon than to the prowess of the bear. 
A good hunter whom I once knew, at a time when 
he was living in Butte, received fatal injuries from 
a bear he attacked in open woodland. The beast 
charged after the first shot, but slackened its pace 



112 The Wilderness Hunter 

on coming almost up to the man. The latter's 
gun jambed, and as he was endeavoring to work 
it he kept stepping slowly back, facing the bear 
which followed a few yards distant, snarling and 
threatening. Unfortunately, while thus walking 
backwards the man struck a dead log and fell 
over it, whereupon the beast instantly sprang on 
him and mortally wounded him before help ar- 
rived. 

On rare occasions, men who are not at the time 
hunting it, fall victims to the grisly. This is 
usually because they stumble on it unawares and 
the animal attacks them more in fear than in 
anger. One such case, resulting fatally, occurred 
near my own ranch. The man walked almost 
over a bear while crossing a little point of brush, 
in a bend of the river, and was brained with a 
single blow of the paw. In another instance 
which came to my knowledge, the man escaped 
with a shaking up, and without even a fright. 
His name was Perkins, and he was out gathering 
huckleberries in the woods on a mountain-side 
near Pend Oreille Lake. Suddenly he was sent 
flying head over heels, by a blow which com- 
pletely knocked the breath out of his body ; and 
so instantaneous was the whole affair that all 
he could ever recollect about it was getting a 
vague glimpse of the bear just as he was bowled 
over. When he came to he found himself lying 



Hunting the Grisly 113 

some distance down the hillside, much shaken, 
and without his berry-pail, which had rolled a 
hundred yards below him, but not otherwise the 
worse for his misadventure; while the footprints 
showed that the bear, after delivering the single 
hurried stroke at the -unwitting disturber of its 
day-dreams, had run off up hill as fast as it was 
able. 

A she-bear with cubs is a proverbially danger- 
ous beast ; yet even under such conditions differ- 
ent grislies act in directly opposite ways. Some 
she-grislies, when their cubs are young, but are 
able to follow them about, seem always worked 
up to the highest pitch of anxious and jealous 
rage, so that they are likely to attack improvoked 
any intruder or even passer-by. Others, when 
threatened by the hunter, leave their cubs to 
their fate without a visible qualm of any kind, 
and seem to think only of their own safety. 

In 1882, Mr. Caspar W. Whitney, now of New 
York, met with a very singular adventure with a 
she-bear and cub. He was in Harvard when I 
was, but left it and, like a good many other 
Harvard men of that time, took to cow-punching 
in the West. He went on a ranch in Rio Arriba 
County, New Mexico, and was a keen hunter, 
especially fond of the chase of cougar, bear, and 
elk. One day while riding a stony mountain trail 
he saw a little grisly cub watching him from the 

VOL. II. — 8. 



114 The Wilderness Hunter 

chaparral above, and he dismounted to try to 
capture it; his rifle was a 40-90 Sharp's. Just 
as he neared the cub, he heard a growl and 
caught a glimpse of the old she, and he at once 
turned up hill, and stood under some tall, quak- 
ing aspens. From this spot he fired at and 
wounded the she, then seventy yards off; and 
she charged furiously. He hit her again, but as 
she kept coming like a thunderbolt he climbed 
hastily up an aspen, dragging his gun with him, 
as it had a strap. When the bear reached the 
foot of the aspen she reared, and bit and clawed 
the slender trimk, shaking it for a moment, and 
he shot her through the eye. Off she sprang for 
a few yards, and then spun round a dozen times, 
as if dazed or partially stunned ; for the bullet 
had not touched the brain. Then the vindictive 
and resolute beast came back to the tree and 
again reared up against it; this time to receive 
a bullet that dropped her lifeless. Mr. Whitney 
then climbed down and walked to where the 
cub had been sitting as a looker-on. The little 
animal did not move until he reached out his 
hand; when it suddenly struck at him like an 
angry cat, dove into the bushes, and was seen 
no more. 

In the summer of 1888, an old-time trapper, 
named Charley Norton, while on Loon Creek, of 
the middle fork of the Salmon, meddled with a she 



Hunting the Grisly 115 

and her cubs. She ran at him and with one blow 
of her paw almost knocked off his lower jaw; yet 
he recovered, and was alive when I last heard of 
him. 

Yet the very next spring the cowboys with my 
own wagon on the Little Missouri round-up killed 
a mother bear which made but little more fight 
than a coyote. She had two cubs, and was sur- 
prised in the early morning on the prairie far 
from cover. There were eight or ten cowboys 
together at the time, just starting off on a long 
circle, and of course they all got down their ropes 
in a second, and putting spurs to their fiery little 
horses started toward the bears at a run, shouting 
and swinging their loops roimd their heads. For 
a moment the old she tried to bluster and made 
a half-hearted threat at charging; but her cour- 
age failed before the rapid onslaught of her yell- 
ing, rope-swinging assailants; and she took to 
her heels and galloped off, leaving the cubs to 
shift for themselves. The cowboys were close 
behind, however, and after half a mile's run she 
bolted into a shallow cave or hole in the side of a 
butte, where she stayed cowering and growling, 
until one of the men leaped off his horse, ran up 
to the edge of the hole, and killed her with a 
single bullet from his revolver, fired so close that 
the powder burned her hair. The unfortunate 
cubs were roped, and then so dragged about that 



ii6 The Wilderness Hunter 

they were speedily killed instead of being brought 
alive to camp, as ought to have been done. 

In the cases mentioned above, the grisly at- 
tacked only after having been itself assailed, or 
because it feared an assault for itself or for its 
young. In the old days, however, it may almost 
be said that a grisly was more apt to attack than 
to flee. Lewis and Clarke and the early explor- 
ers who immediately succeeded them, as well as 
the first hunters and trappers, the " Rocky Moun- 
tain men" of the early decades of the present 
century, were repeatedly assailed in this manner; 
and not a few of the bear-hunters of that period 
found that it was unnecessary to take much 
trouble about approaching their quarry, as the 
grisly was usually prompt to accept the challenge 
and to advance of its own accord, as soon as it dis- 
covered the foe. All this is changed now. Yet 
even at the present day an occasional vicious old 
bear may be found, in some far-off and little-trod 
fastness, which still keeps up the former habit of 
its kind. All old hunters have tales of this sort 
to relate, the prowess, cimning, strength, and 
ferocity of the grisly being favorite topics for 
camp-fire talk throughout the Rockies ; but in 
most cases it is not safe to accept these stories 
without careful sifting. 

Still, it is just as unsafe to reject them all. 
One of my own cowboys was once attacked by 



Hunting the Grisly 117 

a grisly, seemingly in pure wantonness. He was 
riding up a creek bottom, and had just passed a 
clump of rose and bullberry bushes when his 
horse gave such a leap as almost to unseat him, 
and then darted madly forward. Turning round 
in the saddle to his utter astonishment he saw a 
large bear galloping after him, at the horse's 
heels. For a few jumps the race was close, then 
the horse drew away and the bear wheeled and 
went into a thicket of wild plums. The amazed 
and indignant cowboy, as soon as he could rein in 
his steed, drew his revolver and rode back to and 
around the thicket, endeavoring to provoke his 
late pursuer to come out and try conclusions on 
more equal terms ; but prudent Ephraim had ap- 
parently repented of his freak of ferocious bra- 
vado, and declined to leave the secure shelter of 
the jungle. 

Other attacks are of a much more explicable 
nature. Mr. Huffman, the photographer of Miles 
City, informed me that once when butchering 
some slaughtered elk he was charged twice by a 
she-bear and two well-grown cubs. This was a 
piece of sheer bullying, undertaken solely with 
the purpose of driving away the man and feast- 
ing on the carcasses ; for in each charge the three 
bears, after advancing with much blustering, 
roaring, and growling, halted just before com- 
ing to close quarters. In another instance a 



ii8 The Wilderness Hunter 

gentleman I once knew, a Mr. S. Carr, was 
charged by a grisly from mere ill-temper at being 
disturbed at meal-time. The man was riding up 
a valley; and the bear was at an elk carcass, 
near a clump of firs. As soon as it became aware 
of the approach of the horseman, while he was 
yet over a hundred yards distant, it jumped on 
the carcass, looked at him a moment, and then 
ran straight for him. There was no particular 
reason why it should have charged, for it was fat 
and in good trim, though when killed its head 
showed scars made by the teeth of rival grislies. 
Apparently it had been living so well, principally 
on flesh, that it had become quarrelsome; and 
perhaps its not over sweet disposition had been 
soured by combats with others of its own kind. 
In yet another case, a grisly charged with even 
less excuse. An old trapper, from whom I oc- 
casionally bought fur, was toiling up a mountain 
pass when he spied a big bear sitting on his 
haunches on the hillside above. The trapper 
shouted and waved his cap; whereupon, to his 
amazement, the bear uttered a loud "wough" 
and charged straight down on him — only to fall 
a victim to misplaced boldness. 

I am even inclined to think that there have 
been wholly exceptional occasions when a grisly 
has attacked a man with the deliberate purpose 
of making a meal of him; when, in other words, 



Hunting the Grisly 119 

it has started on the career of a man-eater. i\t 
least, on any other theory I find it difficult to ac- 
count for an attack which once came to my know- 
ledge. I was at Sand Point, on Pend Oreille Lake, 
and met some French and Meti trappers, then in 
town with their bales of beaver, otter, and sable. 
One of them, who gave his name as Baptiste La- 
moche, had his head twisted over to one side, the 
result of the bite of a bear. When the accident 
occurred he was out on a trapping trip with two 
companions. They had pitched camp right on 
the shore of a cove in a little lake, and his com- 
rades were off fishing in a dugout or pirogue. He 
himself was sitting near the shore, by a little 
lean-to, watching some beaver meat which was 
sizzling over the dying embers. Suddenly, and 
without warning, a great bear, which had crept 
silently up beneath the shadows of the tall ever- 
greens, rushed at him, with a guttural roar, and 
seized him before he could rise to his' feet. It 
grasped him with its jaws at the junction of the 
neck and shoulder, making the teeth meet through 
bone, sinew, and muscle; and, turning, tracked 
off towards the forest, dragging with it the help- 
less and paralyzed victim. Luckily, the two men 
in the canoe had just paddled round the point, in 
sight of, and close to, camp. The man in the 
bow, seeing the plight of their comrade, seized 
his rifle and fired at the bear. The bullet went 



I20 The Wilderness Hunter 

through the beast's lungs, and it forthwith 
dropped its prey, and running off some two 
hiindred yards, lay down on its side and died. 
The rescued man recovered full health and 
strength, but never again carried his head 
straight. 

Old hunters and mountain-men tell many 
stories, not only of malicious grislies thus at- 
tacking men in camp, but also of their even 
dogging the footsteps of some solitary hunter 
and killing him when the favorable opportunity 
occurs. Most of these tales are mere fables ; but 
it is possible that in altogether exceptional in- 
stances they rest on a foundation of fact. One 
old hunter whom I knew told me such a story. 
He was a truthful old fellow, and there was no 
doubt that he believed what he said, and that 
his companion was actually killed by a bear ; but 
it is probable that he was mistaken in reading 
the signs of his comrade's fate, and that the 
latter was not dogged by the bear at all, but 
stumbled on him and was slain in the surprise of 
the moment. 

At any rate, cases of wanton assaults by grislies 
are altogether out of the common. The ordinary 
hunter may live out his whole life in the wilder- 
ness and never know aught of a bear attacking a 
man unprovoked ; and the great majority of bears 
are shot under circumstances of no special ex- 



Hunting the Grisly 121 

citement, as they either make no fight at all, or, 
if they do fight, are killed before there is any risk 
of their doing damage. If surprised on the plains, 
at some distance from timber or from badly bro- 
ken ground, it is no uncommon teat for a single 
horseman to kill them with a revolver. Twice of 
late years it has been performed in the neighbor- 
hood of my ranch. In both instances the men 
were not hunters out after game, but simply cow- 
boys, riding over the range in early morning in 
pursuance of their ordinary duties among the 
cattle. I knew both men and have worked with 
them on the round-up. Like most cowboys they 
carried 44-calibre Colt revolvers, and were accus- 
tomed to and fairly expert in their use, and they 
were mounted on ordinary cowrpbnies — quick, 
wiry, plucky little beasts. In one case the bear 
was seen from quite a distance, lounging across 
a broad table-land. The cowboy, by taking ad- 
vantage of a winding and rather shallow coulie, 
got quite close to him. He then scrambled out 
of the coulie, put spurs to his pony, and raced up 
to within fifty yards of the astonished bear ere 
the latter quite understood what it was that was 
running at him through the gray dawn. He 
made no attempt at fight, but ran at top speed 
towards a clump of brush not far off at the head 
of a creek. Before he could reach it, however, 
the galloping horseman was alongside, and fired 



1-22 The Wilderness Hunter 

three shots into his broad back. He did not turn, 
but ran on into the bushes and then fell over and 
died. 

In the other case the cowboy, a Texan, was 
mounted on a good cutting pony, a spirited, 
handy, agile little animal, but excitable, and 
with a habit of dancing, which rendered it diffi- 
cult to shoot from its back. The man was with 
the round-up wagon, and had been sent off by 
himself to make a circle through some low, barren 
buttes, where it was thought not more than a 
few head of stock would be found. On round- 
ing the comer of a small washout he almost ran 
over a bear which was feeding on the carcass of 
a steer that had died in an alkali hole. After a 
moment of stunned surprise the bear hurled him- 
self at the intruder with furious impetuosity; 
while the cowboy, wheeling his horse on its 
haunches and dashing in the spurs, carried it just 
clear of his assailant's headlong rush. After a 
few springs he reined in and once more wheeled 
half round, having drawn his revolver, only to 
find the bear again charging and almost on him. 
This time he fired into it, near the joining of the 
neck and shoulder, the bullet going downwards 
into the chest hollow ; and again by a quick dash 
to one side he just avoided the rush of the beast 
and the sweep of its mighty fore paw. The bear 
then halted for a minute, and he rode close by it 



Hunting the Grisly 123 

at a run, firing a couple of shots, which brought 
on another resolute charge. The ground was 
somewhat rugged and broken, but his pony was 
as quick on its feet as a cat, and never stumbled, 
even when going at full speed to avoid the bear's 
first mad rushes. It speedily became so excited, 
however, as to render it almost impossible for the 
rider to take aim. Sometimes he would come up 
close to the bear and wait for it to charge, which 
it would do, first at a trot, or rather rack, and 
then at a lumbering but swift gallop; and he 
would fire one or two shots before being forced 
to run. At other times, if the bear stood still in 
a good place, he would run by it, firing as he 
rode. He spent many cartridges and, though 
most of them were wasted, occasionally a bullet 
went home. The bear fought with the most sav- 
age courage, champing its bloody jaws, roaring 
with rage, and looking the very incarnation of 
evil fury. For some minutes it made no effort 
to flee, either charging or standing at bay. Then 
it began to move slowly towards a patch of ash 
and wild plums in the head of a coulie, some dis- 
tance off. Its pursuer rode after it, and when 
close enough would push by it and fire, while the 
bear would spin quickly round and charge as 
fiercely as ever, though evidently beginning to 
grow weak. At last, when still a couple of hun- 
dred yards from cover, the man found he had 



124 The Wilderness Hunter 

used up all his cartridges, and then merely fol- 
lowed at a safe distance. The bear no longer 
paid heed to him, but walked slowly forwards, 
swaying its great head from side to side, while 
the blood streamed from between its half -opened 
jaws. On reaching the cover he could tell by the 
waving of the bushes that it walked to the middle 
and then halted. A few minutes afterwards some 
of the other cowboys rode up, having been at- 
tracted by the incessant firing. They surrounded 
the thicket, firing and throwing stones into the 
bushes. Finally, as nothing moved, they ven- 
tured in and found the indomitable grisly warrior 
lying dead. 

Cowboys delight in nothing so much as the 
chance to show their skill as riders and ropers; 
and they always try to ride down and rope any 
wild animal they come across in favorable ground 
and close enough up. If a party of them meets a 
bear in the open they have great fun; and the 
struggle between the shouting, galloping rough- 
riders and their shaggy quarry is full of wild ex- 
citement and not imaccompanied by danger. The 
bear often throws the noose from his head so rap- 
idly that it is a difficult matter to catch him ; and 
his frequent charges scatter his tormentors in 
every direction while the horses become wild with 
fright over the roaring, bristling beast — for horses 
seem to dread a bear more than any other animal. 



Hunting the Grisly 125 

If the bear cannot reach cover, however, his fate 
is sealed. Sooner or later, the noose tightens 
over one leg, or perchance over the neck and fore 
paw, and as the rope straightens with a ''pluck," 
the horse braces itself desperately and the bear 
tumbles over. Whether he regains his feet or 
not the cowboy keeps the rope taut; soon an- 
other noose tightens over a leg, and the bear is 
speedily rendered helpless. 

I have known of these feats being performed 
several times in northern Wyoming, although 
never in the immediate neighborhood of my ranch. 
Mr. Archibald Rogers's cowhands have in this 
manner caught several bears on or near his ranch 
on the Gray Bull, which flows into the Bighorn; 
and those of Mr. G. B. Grinnell have also occa- 
sionally done so. Any set of moderately good 
ropers and riders, who are accustomed to back 
one another up and act together, can accomplish 
the feat if they have smooth ground and plenty 
of room. It is, however, indeed a feat of skill 
and daring for a single man; and yet I have 
known of more than one instance in which it has 
been accomplished by some reckless knight of the 
rope and the saddle. One such occurred in 1887 
on the Flathead Reservation, the hero being a 
half-breed, and another in 1890 at the mouth of 
the Bighorn, where a cowboy roped, boimd, and 
killed a large bear single-handed. 



126 The Wilderness Hunter 

My friend, General "Red" Jackson, of Belle- 
meade, in the pleasant mid-county of Tennessee, 
once did a feat which casts into the shade even 
the feats of the men of the lariat. General Jack- 
son, who afterwards became one of the ablest 
and most renowned of the Confederate cavalry 
leaders, was at the time a young officer in the 
Mounted Rifle Regiment, now known as the 3d 
United States Cavalry. It was some years before 
the Civil War, and the regiment was on duty in the 
Southwest, then the debatable land of Comanche 
and Apache. While on a scout after hostile In- 
dians, the troops in their march roused a large 
grisly which sped off across the plain in front of 
them. Strict orders had been issued against fir- 
ing at game, because of the nearness of the In- 
dians. Young Jackson was a man of great 
strength, a keen swordsman, who always kept the 
finest edge on his blade, and he was on a swift 
and mettled Kentucky horse, which luckily had 
but one eye. Riding at full speed he soon over- 
took the quarry. As the horse-hoofs sounded 
nearer, the grim bear ceased its flight and, whirl- 
ing round, stood at bay, raising itself on its hind 
legs and threatening its pursuer with bared 
fangs and spread claws. Carefully riding his 
horse so that its blind side should be towards 
the monster, the cavalryman swept by at a run, 
handling his steed with such daring skill that he 



Hunting the Grisly 127 

just cleared the blow of the dreaded fore paw, 
while, with one mighty sabre stroke, he cleft the 
bear's skull, slaying the grinning beast as it stood 
upright. 



CHAPTER V 

THE COUGAR 

NO animal of the chase is so difficult to kill 
by fair still-hunting as the cougar — that 
beast of many names, known in the East 
as panther and painter, in the West as moimtain 
lion, in the Southwest as Mexican lion, and in the 
southern continent as lion and puma. 

Without hounds its pursuit is so uncertain that 
from the still-hunter's standpoint it hardly de- 
serves to rank as game at all — though, by the 
way, it is itself a more skilful still-hunter than 
any human rival. It prefers to move abroad by 
night or at dusk; and in the daytime usually 
lies hid in some cave or tangled thicket where it 
is absolutely impossible even to stumble on it by 
chance. It is a beast of stealth and rapine; its 
great, velvet paws never make a sound, and it is 
always on the watch whether for prey or for 
enemies, while it rarely leaves shelter even when 
it thinks itself safe. Its soft, leisurely movements 
and uniformity of color make it difficult to dis- 
cover at best, and its extreme watchfulness helps 
it ; but it is the cougar's reluctance to leave cover 

128 



The Cougar 129 

at any time, its habit of slinking off through 
the brush, instead of running in the open, when 
startled, and the way in which it lies motionless 
in its lair even when a man is within twenty 
yards, that render it so difficult to still-hunt. 

In fact, it is next to impossible with any hope 
of success regularly to himt the cougar without 
dogs or bait. Most cougars that are killed by 
still-himters are shot by accident while the man 
is after other game. This has been my own ex- 
perience. Although not common, cougars are 
found near my ranch, where the ground is pecu- 
liarly favorable for the solitary rifleman; and for 
ten years I have, off and on, devoted a day or 
two to their pursuit ; but never successfully. One 
December a large cougar took up his abode on a 
densely wooded bottom two miles above the 
ranch-house. I did not discover his existence im- 
til I went there one evening to kill a deer, and 
found that he had driven all the deer off the bot- 
tom, having killed several, as well as a young 
heifer. Snow was falling at the time, but the 
storm was evidently almost over ; the leaves were 
all off the trees and bushes ; and I felt that next 
day there would be such a chance to follow the 
cougar as fate rarely offered. In the morning by 
dawn I was at the bottom, and speedily found 
his trail. Following it, I came across his bed, 
among some cedars in a dark, steep gorge, where 

VOL. H.— g. 



I30 The Wilderness Hunter 

the buttes bordered the bottom. He had evi- 
dently just left it, and I followed his tracks all 
day. But I never caught a glimpse of him, and 
late in the afternoon I trudged wearily home- 
wards. When I went out next morning I found 
that, as soon as I abandoned the chase, my quarry, 
according to the uncanny habit sometimes dis- 
played by his kind, coolly turned likewise, and 
deliberately dogged my footsteps to within a 
mile of the ranch-house; his round footprints 
being as clear as writing in the snow. 

This was the best chance of the kind that I 
ever had ; but again and again I have found fresh 
signs of cougar, such as a lair which they had 
just left, game they had killed, or one of our 
venison caches which they had robbed, and have 
hunted for them all day without success. My 
failures were doubtless due, in part, to various 
shortcomings in hunter' s-craft on my own part; 
but equally without doubt they were mainly due 
to the quarry's wariness and its sneaking ways. 

I have seen a wild cougar alive but twice, and 
both times by chance. On one occasion one of 
my men, Merrifield, and I surprised one eating a 
skunk in a bullberry patch; and by our own 
bungling frightened it away from its unsavory 
repast without getting a shot. 

On the other occasion luck befriended me. I 
was with a pack-train in the Rockies, and one 



The Cougar 131 

day, feeling lazy, and as we had no meat in camp, 
I determined to try for deer by lying in wait be- 
side a recently travelled game trail. The spot I 
chose was a steep, pine-clad slope leading down 
to a little moimtain lake. I hid behind a breast- 
work of rotten logs, with a few yoimg evergreens 
in front — an excellent ambush. A broad game 
trail slanted down the hill directly past me. I 
lay perfectly quiet for about an hour, listening to 
the murmur of the pine forests, and the occa- 
sional call of a jay or woodpecker, and gazing 
eagerly along the trail in the waning light of 
the late afternoon. Suddenly, without noise or 
warning of any kind, a cougar stood in the trail 
before me. The unlooked-for and unheralded ap- 
proach of the beast was fairly ghost-like. With 
its head lower than its shoulders, and its long 
tail twitching, it slouched down the path, tread- 
ing as softly as a kitten. I waited until it had 
passed and then fired into the short ribs, the 
bullet ranging forward. Throwing its tail up in 
the air, and giving a boimd, the cougar galloped 
off over a slight ridge. But it did not go far; 
within a himdred yards I found it stretched on 
its side, its jaws still working convulsively. 

The true way to hunt the cougar is to follow it 
with dogs. If the chase is conducted in this 
fashion, it is very exciting, and resembles on a 
larger scale the ordinary method of hunting the 



132 The Wilderness Hunter 

wildcat or small lynx, as practised by the sport- 
loving planters of the Southern States. With a 
very little training, hounds readily and eagerly 
pursue the cougar, showing in this kind of chase 
none of the fear and disgust they are so prone 
to exhibit when put on the trail of the certainly 
no more dangerous wolf. The cougar, when the 
hounds are on its track, at first runs, but when 
hard pressed takes to a tree, or possibly comes to 
bay in thick cover. Its attention is then so taken 
up with the hotinds that it can usually be ap- 
proached and shot without much difficulty; 
though some cougars break bay when the hunters 
come near, and again make off, when they can 
only be stopped by many large and fierce hounds. 
Hounds are often killed in these fights; and if 
hungry a cougar will pounce on any dog for food ; 
yet, as I have elsewhere related, I know of one 
instance in which a small pack of big, savage 
hounds killed a cougar unassisted. General Wade 
Hampton, who with horse and hound has been 
the mightiest hunter America has ever seen, in- 
forms me that he has killed with his pack some 
sixteen cougars, during the fifty years he has 
hunted in South Carolina and Mississippi. I be- 
lieve they were all killed in the latter State. 
General Hampton's hunting has been chiefly for 
bear and deer, though his pack also follows the 
lynx and the gray fox; and, of course, if good 



The Cougar 133 

fortune throws either a wolf or a cougar in his 
way it is followed as the game of all others. All 
the cougars he killed were either treed or brought 
to bay in a canebrake by the hounds; and they 
often handled the pack very roughly in the death 
struggle. He found them much more dangerous 
antagonists than the black bear when assailed 
with the himting-knife, a weapon of which he 
was very fond. However, if his pack had held 
a few very large, savage dogs, put in purely for 
fighting when the quarry was at bay, I think the 
danger would have been minimized. 

General Hampton followed his game on horse- 
back ; but in following the cougar with dogs this 
is by no means always necessary. Thus Colonel 
Cecil Clay, of Washington, killed a cougar in West 
Virginia, on foot with only three or four hounds. 
The dogs took the cold trail, and he had to run 
many miles over the rough, forest-clad mountains 
after them. Finally, they drove the cougar up a 
tree; where he found it, standing among the 
branches, in a half -erect position, its hind feet on 
one limb and its fore feet on another, while it 
glared down at the dogs, and switched its tail 
from side to side. He shot it through both 
shoulders and down it came in a heap, where- 
upon the dogs jumped in and worried it, for its 
fore legs were useless, though it managed to catch 
one dog in its jaws and bite him severely. 



134 The Wilderness Hunter 

A wholly exceptional instance of the kind was 
related to me by my old himting friend, Willis. 
In his youth, in southwest Missouri, he knew a 
half-witted ''poor white" who was very fond of 
hunting coons. He himted at night, armed with 
an axe and accompanied by his dog Penny, a 
large, savage, half -starved cur. One dark night 
the dog treed an animal which he could not see; 
so he cut down the tree, and immediately Penny 
jumped in and grabbed the beast. The man 
simg out ** Hold on, Penny," seeing that the dog 
had seized some large, wild animal; the next 
moment the brute knocked the dog endways, and 
at the same instant the man split open its head 
with the axe. Great was his astonishment, and 
greater still the astonishment of the neighbors 
next day when it was f otmd that he had actually 
killed a cougar. These great cats often take to 
trees in a perfectly foolish manner. My friend, 
the hunter Woody, in all his thirty years' expe- 
rience in the wilds, never killed but one cougar. 
He was lying out in camp with two dogs at the 
time; it was about midnight, the fire was out, 
and the night was pitch-black. He was roused 
by the furious barking of his two dogs, which had 
charged into the gloom, and were apparently 
baying at something in a tree close by. He 
kindled the fire, and to his astonishment found 
the thing in the tree to be a cougar. Coming 



The Cougar 135 

close underneath he shot it with his revolver; 
thereupon it leaped down, ran some forty yards, 
and climbed up another tree, where it died among 
the branches. 

If cowboys come across a cougar in open 
ground they invariably chase and try to rope it 
— as indeed they do with any wild animal. I 
have known several instances of cougars being 
roped in this way ; in one, the animal was brought 
into camp by two strapping cow-punchers. 

The cougar sometimes stalks its prey, and some- 
times lies in wait for it beside a game trail or 
drinking-pool — very rarely indeed does it crouch 
on the limb of a tree. When excited by the 
presence of game it is sometimes very bold. 
Willis once fired at some bighorn sheep, on a 
steep moimtain-side ; he missed, and immediately 
after his shot, a cougar made a dash into the 
midst of the flying band, in hopes to secure a 
victim. The cougar roams over long distances, 
and often changes its hunting-ground, perhaps 
remaining in one place two or three months, until 
the game is exhausted, and then shifting to an- 
other. When it does not lie in wait it usually 
spends most of the night, winter and summer, in 
prowling restlessly aroimd the places where it 
thinks it may come across prey, and it will pa- 
tiently follow an animal's trail. There is no 
kind of game, save the full-grown grisly and 



136 The Wilderness Hunter 

biiffalo, which it does not at times assail and 
master. It readily snaps up grisly cubs or buf- 
falo calves; and in at least one instance I have 
known of it springing on, slaying, and eating a 
full-grown wolf. I presume the latter was taken 
by surprise. On the other hand, the cougar itself 
has to fear the big timber wolves when mad- 
dened by the winter htmger and gathered in small 
parties; while a large grisly would of course be 
an overmatch for it twice over, though its supe- 
rior agility puts it beyond the grisly' s power to 
harm it, imless by some unlucky chance taken in 
a cave. Nor could a cougar overcome a bull 
moose, or a bull elk either, if the latter' s horns 
were grown, save by taking it unawares. By 
choice, with such big game, its victims are the 
cows and young. The pronghom rarely comes 
within reach of its spring; but it is the dreaded 
enemy of bighorn, white-goat, and every kind 
of deer, while it also preys on all the smaller 
beasts, such as foxes, coons, rabbits, beavers, and 
even gophers, rats, and mice. It sometimes 
makes a thorny meal of the porcupine, and if 
sufficiently hungry attacks and eats its smaller 
cousin, the lynx. It is not a brave animal; nor 
does it run its prey down in open chase. It 
always makes its attacks by stealth, and, if pos- 
sible, from behind, and relies on two or three 
tremendous springs to bring it on the doomed 



The Cougar 137 

creature's back. It uses its claws as well as its 
teeth in holding and killing the prey. If possible 
it always seizes a large animal by the throat, 
whereas the wolf's point of attack is more often 
the haunch or flank. Small deer or sheep it will 
often knock over and kill, merely using its big 
paws; sometimes it breaks their necks. It has 
a small head compared to the jaguar, and its 
bite is much less dangerous. Hence, as com- 
pared to its larger and bolder relative, it places 
more trust in its claws and less in its teeth. 

Though the cougar prefers woodland, it is not 
necessarily a beast of the dense forests only ; for 
it is fotind in all the plains coiintry, living in the 
scanty timber belts which fringe the streams, or 
among the patches of brush in the Bad Lands. 
The persecution of hunters, however, always tends 
to drive it into the most thickly wooded and 
broken fastnesses of the mountains. The she 
has from one to three kittens, brought forth in a 
cave or a secluded lair, under a dead log, or in 
very thick brush. It is said that the old hes 
kill the small male kittens when they get a 
chance. They certainly at times during the 
breeding season fight desperately among them- 
selves. Cougars are very solitary beasts; it is 
rare to see more than one at a time, and then 
only a mother and yotmg, or a mated male and 
female. While she has kittens, the mother is 



138 The Wilderness Hunter 

doubly destructive to game. The young begin 
to kill for themselves very early. The first fall 
after they are bom they attack large game, and 
from ignorance are bolder in making their at- 
tacks than their parents; but they are clumsy 
and often let the prey escape. Like all cats, 
cougars are comparatively easy to trap, much 
more so than beasts of the dog kind, such as the 
fox and wolf. 

They are silent animals; but old hunters say 
that at mating time the males call loudly, while 
the females have a very distinct answer. They 
are also sometimes noisy at other seasons. I am 
not sure that I ever heard one; but one night, 
while camped in a heavily timbered coulie near 
Kildeer Mountains, where, as their footprints 
showed, the beasts were plentiful, I twice heard 
a loud, wailing scream ringing through the im- 
penetrable gloom which shrouded the hills around 
us. My companion, an old plainsman, said that 
this was the cry of the cougar prowling for its 
prey. Certainly no man could well listen to a 
stranger and wilder sound. 

Ordinarily, the rifleman is in no danger from a 
himted cougar; the beast's one idea seems to be 
flight, and even if its assailant is very close, it 
rarely charges if there is any chance for escape. 
Yet there are occasions when it will show fight. 
In the spring of 1890, a man with whom I had 



The Cougar 139 

more than once worked on the round-up — though 
I never knew his name — was badly mauled by a 
cougar near my ranch. He was hunting with a 
companion and they imexpectedly came on the 
cougar on a shelf of sandstone above their heads, 
only some ten feet off. It sprang down on the 
man, mangled him with teeth and claws for a 
moment, and then ran away. Another man I 
knew, a hunter named Ed. Smith, who had a 
small ranch near Helena, was once charged by a 
woimded cougar; he received a couple of deep 
scratches, but was not seriously hurt. 

Many old frontiersmen tell tales of the cougar's 
occasionally itself making the attack, and dogging 
to his death some unfortimate wayfarer. Many 
others laugh such tales to scorn. It is certain that 
if such attacks occur they are altogether excep- 
tional, being indeed of such extreme rarity that 
they may be entirely disregarded in practice. I 
should have no more hesitation in sleeping out 
in a wood where there were cougars, or walking 
through it after nightfall, than I should have if 
the cougars were tomcats. 

Yet it is foolish to deny that in exceptional 
instances attacks may occur. Cougars vary won- 
derfully in size, and no less in temper. Indeed, 
I think that by nature they are as ferocious and 
bloodthirsty as they are cowardly ; and that their 
habit of sometimes dogging wayfarers for miles is 



HO The Wilderness Hunter 

due to a desire for bloodshed which they lack the 
courage to realize. In the old days, when all 
wild beasts were less shy than at present, there 
was more danger from the cougar; and this was 
especially true in the dark canebrakes of some of 
the Southern States, where the man a cougar was 
most likely to encounter was a nearly naked and 
unarmed negro. General Hampton tells me that 
near his Mississippi plantation, many years ago, 
a negro who was one of a gang engaged in build- 
ing a railroad through low and wet ground was 
waylaid and killed by a cougar late one night as 
he was walking alone through the swamp. 

I knew two men in Missoula who were once at- 
tacked by cougars in a very curious manner. It 
was in January, and they were walking home 
through the snow after a hunt, each carrying on 
his back the saddle, haunches, and hide of a deer 
he had slain. Just at dusk, as they were passing 
through a narrow ravine, the man in front heard 
his partner utter a sudden loud call for help. 
Turning, he was dumbfounded to see the man 
lying on his face in the snow, with a cougar which 
had evidently just knocked him down standing 
over him, grasping the deer meat ; while another 
cougar was galloping up to assist. Swinging his 
rifle round he shot the first one in the brain, and 
it dropped motionless, whereat the second halted, 
wheeled, and bounded into the woods. His com- 



The Cougar 141 

panion was not in the least hurt or even fright- 
ened, though greatly amazed. The cougars were 
not full grown, but young of the year. 

Now in this case I do not believe the beasts 
had any real intention of attacking the men. 
They were young animals — bold, stupid, and very 
hungry. The smell of the raw meat excited them 
beyond control, and they probably could not 
make out clearly what the men were, as they 
walked bent under their burdens, with the deer- 
skins on their backs. Evidently the cougars were 
only trying to get at the venison. 

In 1886, a cougar killed an Indian near Flat- 
head Lake. Two Indians were htmting together 
on horseback when they came on the cougar. It 
fell at once to their shots, and they dismounted 
and ran towards it. Just as they reached it it 
came to, and seized one, killing him instantly 
with a couple of savage bites in the throat and 
chest; it then raced after the other, and, as he 
sprung on his horse, struck him across the but- 
tocks, inflicting a deep but not dangerous scratch. 
I saw this survivor a year later. He evinced 
great reluctance to talk of the event, and insisted 
that the thing w^hich had slain his companion 
was not really a cougar at all, but a devil. 

A she-cougar does not often attempt to avenge 
the loss of her young, but sometimes she does. 
A remarkable instance of the kind happened to my 



142 The Wilderness Hunter 

friend, Professor John Bache McMaster, in 1875. 
He was camped near the head of Green River, 
Wyoming. One afternoon he foimd a couple of 
cougar kittens, and took them into camp; they 
were clumsy, playful, friendly little creatures. 
The next afternoon he remained in camp with 
the cook. Happening to look up he suddenly 
spied the mother cougar running noiselessly down 
on them, her eyes glaring and tail twitching. 
Snatching up his rifle, he killed her when she was 
barely twenty yards distant. 

A ranchman, named Trescott, who was at one 
time my neighbor, told me that while he was 
living on a sheep-farm in the Argentine, he found 
pumas very common, and killed many. They 
were very destructive to sheep and colts, but 
were singularly cowardly when dealing with men. 
Not only did they never attack human beings, un- 
der any stress of hunger, but they made no effec- 
tive resistance when brought to bay, merely 
scratching and cuffing like a big cat; so that if 
found in a cave, it was safe to creep in and shoot 
them with a revolver. Jaguars, on the contrary, 
were very dangerous antagonists. 



CHAPTER VI 

A PECCARY HUNT ON THE NUECES 

IN the United States the peccary is only found 
in the southernmost comer of Texas. In 
April, 1892, I made a flying visit to the ranch 
country of this region, starting from the town of 
Uvalde with a Texan friend, Mr. John Moore. 
My trip being hurried, I had but a couple of days 
to devote to hunting. 

Our first halting-place was at a ranch on the 
Frio — a low, wooden building, of many rooms, 
with open galleries between them, and verandahs 
round about. The country was in some respects 
like, in others strangely unlike, the northern 
plains with which I was so well acquainted. It 
was for the most part covered with a scattered 
growth of tough, stunted mesquite-trees, not 
dense enough to be called a forest, and yet suf- 
ficiently close to cut off the view. It was very- 
dry, even as compared with the northern plains. 
The bed of the Frio was filled with coarse gravel, 
and for the most part dry as a bone on the sur- 
face, the water seeping through underneath, and 
only appearing in occasional deep holes. These 

143 



144 The Wilderness Hunter 

deep holes or ponds never fail, even after a year*s 
drouth; they were filled with fish. One lay 
quite near the ranch-house, under a bold rocky 
bluff ; at its edge grew giant cypress-trees. In the 
hollows and by the watercourses were occasional 
groves of pecans, live-oaks, and elms. Strange 
birds hopped among the bushes; the chaparral 
cock — a big, handsome groimd-cuckoo of re- 
markable habits, much given to preying on small 
snakes and lizards — ran over the ground with ex- 
traordinary rapidity. Beautiful swallow-tailed 
king-birds with rosy plumage perched on the tops 
of the small trees, and soared and flitted in grace- 
ful curves above them. Blackbirds of many kinds 
scuttled in flocks about the corrals and outbuild- 
ings around the ranches. Mocking-birds abounded 
and were very noisy, singing almost all the day- 
time, but with their usual irritating inequality of 
performance, wonderfully musical and powerful 
snatches of song being interspersed with imitations 
of other bird notes and disagreeable squalling. 
Throughout the trip I did not hear one of them 
utter the beautiful love-song in which they some- 
times indulge at night. 

The coimtry was all under wire fence, unlike 
the northern regions, the pastures, however, being 
sometimes many miles across. When we reached 
the Frio ranch a herd of a thousand cattle had 
just been gathered, and two or three himdred 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 145 

beeves and young stock were being cut out to be 
driven northward over the trail. The cattle were 
worked in pens much more than in the North, 
and on all the ranches there were chutes with 
steering gates, by means of which the individuals 
of a herd could be dexterously shifted into va- 
rious corrals. The branding of the calves was 
done ordinarily in one of these corrals and on 
foot, the calf being always roped by both fore 
legs; otherwise the work of the cow-punchers 
was much like that of their brothers in the North. 
As a whole, however, they were distinctly more 
proficient with the rope, and at least half of them 
were Mexicans. 

There were some bands of wild cattle, living 
only in the densest timber of the river bottoms 
which were literally as wild as deer, and more- 
over very fierce and dangerous. The pursuit of 
these was exciting and hazardous in the extreme. 
The men who took part in it showed not only the 
utmost daring but the most consummate horse- 
manship and wonderful skill in the use of the 
rope, the coil being hurled with the force and 
precision of an iron quoit; a single man speedily 
overtaking, roping, throwing, and binding down 
the fiercest steer or bull. 

There had been many peccaries, or, as the Mex- 
icans and cow-punchers of the border usually call 
them, javalinas, round this ranch a few years 



VOL. II. — 10. 



146 The Wilderness Hunter 

before the date of my visit. Until 1886, or 
thereabouts, these little wild hogs were not much 
molested, and aboimded in the dense chaparral 
around the lower Rio Grande. In that year, 
however, it was suddenly discovered that their 
hides had a market value, being worth four bits 
—that is, half a dollar — apiece; and many Mex- 
icans and not a few shiftless Texans went into 
the business of hunting them as a means of liveli- 
hood. They were more easily killed than deer, 
and, as a result, they were speedily exterminated 
in many localities where they had formerly been 
numerous, and even where they were left were to 
be found only in greatly diminished numbers. 
On this particular Frio ranch the last little band 
had been killed nearly a year before. There were 
three of them, a boar and two sows, and a couple 
of the cowboys stumbled on them early one morn- 
ing while out with a dog. After half a mile's 
chase the three peccaries ran into a hollow pecan- 
tree, and one of the cowboys, dismounting, im- 
provised a lance by tying his knife to the end of 
a pole, and killed them all. 

Many anecdotes were related to me of what 
they had done in the old days when they were 
plentiful on the ranch. They were then usually 
found in parties of from twenty to thirty, feeding 
in the dense chaparral, the sows rejoining the 
herd with the young very soon after the birth of 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 147 

the latter, each sow usually having but one or 
two at a litter. At night they sometimes lay in 
the thickest cover, but always, where possible, 
preferred to house in a cave or big hollow log, one 
invariably remaining as a sentinel close to the 
mouth, looking out. If this sentinel were shot, 
another would almost certainly take his place. 
They were subject to freaks of stupidity, and 
were pugnacious to a degree. Not only would 
they fight if molested, but they would often at- 
tack entirely without provocation. 

Once my friend Moore himself, while out with 
another cowboy on horseback, was attacked in 
sheer wantonness by a drove of these little wild 
hogs. The two men were riding by a drove of 
live-oaks along a wood-cutter's cart-track, and 
were assailed without a moment's warning. The 
little creatures completely surrounded them, cut- 
ting fiercely at the horses' legs and jumping up 
at the riders' feet. The men, drawing their re- 
volvers, dashed through and were closely followed 
by their pursuers for three or four hundred yards, 
although they fired right and left with good effect. 
Both of the horses were badly cut. On another 
occasion the bookkeeper of the ranch walked off 
to a water-hole but a quarter of a mile distant, 
and came face to face with a peccary on a cattle 
trail, where the brush was thick. Instead of 
getting out of his way the creature charged him 



148 The Wilderness Hunter 

instantly, drove him up a small mesquite-tree, 
and kept him there for nearly two hours, looking 
up at him and champing its tusks. 

I spent two days hunting round this ranch but 
saw no peccary sign whatever, although deer were 
quite plentiful. Parties of wild geese and sand- 
hill cranes occasionally flew overhead. At night- 
fall the poor- wills wailed everywhere through the 
woods, and coyotes yelped and yelled, while in 
the early morning the wild turkeys gobbled 
loudly from their roosts in the tops of the pecan- 
trees. 

Having satisfied myself that there were no java- 
linas left on the Frio ranch, and being nearly at 
the end of my holiday, I was about to abandon 
the effort to get any, when a passing cowman hap- 
pened to mention the fact that some were still 
to be found on the Nueces River thirty miles or 
thereabouts to the southward. Thither I deter- 
mined to go, and next morning Moore and I 
started in a buggy drawn by a redoubtable horse, 
named Jim Swinger, which we were allowed to 
use because he bucked so under the saddle that 
nobody on the ranch could ride him. We drove 
six or seven hours across the dry, waterless plains. 
There had been a heavy frost a few days before, 
which had blackened the budding mesquite-trees, 
and their twigs still showed no signs of sprouting. 
Occasionally we came across open spaces where 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 149 

there was nothing but short brown grass. In 
most places, however, the leafless, sprawling mes- 
quites were scattered rather thinly over the 
ground, cutting off an extensive view and merely 
adding to the melancholy barrenness of the land- 
scape. The road was nothing but a couple of 
dusty wheel-tracks ; the grovind was parched, and 
the grass cropped close by the gaunt, starved 
cattle. As we drove along buzzards and great 
hawks occasionally soared overhead. Now and 
then we passed lines of wild-looking, long-homed 
steers, and once we came on the grazing horses 
of a cow-outfit, just preparing to start northward 
over the trail to the fattening pastures. Occa- 
sionally we encountered one or two cow-punchers : 
either Texans, habited exactly like their brethren 
in the North, with broad-brimmed gray hats, 
blue shirts, silk neckerchiefs, and leather leggings, 
or else Mexicans, more gaudily dressed, and wear- 
ing peculiarly stiff, very broad-brimmed hats, 
with conical tops. 

Toward the end of our ride we got where the 
ground was more fertile, and there had recently 
been a sprinkling of rain. Here we came across 
wonderful flower prairies. In one spot I kept 
catching glimpses through the mesquite-trees of 
lilac stretches which I had first thought must be 
ponds of water. On coming nearer they proved 
to be acres on acres thickly covered with beautiful 



I50 The Wilderness Hunter 

lilac-colored flowers. Farther on we came to 
where broad bands of red flowers covered the 
ground for many furlongs; then their places were 
taken by yellow blossoms, elsewhere by white. 
Generally, each band or patch of ground was cov- 
ered densely by flowers of the same color, making 
a great vivid streak across the landscape ; but in 
places they were mixed together, red, yellow, and 
purple, interspersed in patches and curving bands, 
carpeting the prairie in a strange, bright pattern. 

Finally, toward evening we reached the Nueces. 
Where we struck it first the bed was dry, except 
in occasional deep, malarial-looking pools, but a 
short distance below there began to be a running 
current. Great blue herons were stalking beside 
these pools, and from one we flushed a white ibis. 
In the woods were reddish cardinal birds — much 
less brilliant in plumage than the true cardinals 
and the scarlet tanagers — and yellow-headed tit- 
mice, which had already built large domed nests. 

In the valley of the Nueces itself, the brush 
grew thick. There were great groves of pecan- 
trees, and evergreen live-oaks stood in many 
places, long, wind-shaken tufts of gray moss 
hanging from their limbs. Many of the trees in 
the wet spots were of giant size, and the whole 
landscape was semi-tropical in character. High 
on a bluff shoulder overlooking the course of the 
river was perched the ranch-house, toward which 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 151 

we were bending our steps; and here we were 
received with the hearty hospitality characteris- 
tic of the ranch coiintry everywhere. 

The son of the ranchman, a tall, well-built 
young fellow, told me at once that there were 
peccaries in the neighborhood, and that he had 
himself shot one but two or three days before, 
and volunteered to lend us horses and pilot us 
to the game on the morrow, with the help of his 
two dogs. The last were big black curs with, as 
we were assured, ''considerable hound" in them. 
One was at the time staying at the ranch-house, 
the other was four or five miles off with a Mexican 
goat-herder, and it was arranged that early in 
the morning we should ride down to the latter 
place, taking the first dog with us and procuring 
his companion when we reached the goat -herder's 
house. 

We started after breakfast, riding powerful 
cow-ponies, well trained to gallop at full speed 
through the dense chaparral. The big black 
hound slouched at our heels. We rode down the 
banks of the Nueces, crossing and recrossing the 
stream. Here and there were long, deep pools, in 
the bed of the river, where rushes and lilies grew 
and huge mailed garfish swam slowly just beneath 
the surface of the water. Once my companions 
stopped to pull a mired cow out of a slough, 
hauling with ropes from their saddle-horns. 



152 The Wilderness Hunter 

In places there were half -dry pools, out of the 
regular current of the river, the water green 
and fetid. The trees were very tall and large. 
The streamers of pale gray moss hung thickly 
from the branches of the live-oaks, and when 
many trees thus draped stood close together they 
bore a strangely mournful and desolate look. 

We finally found the queer little hut of the 
Mexican goat-herder in the midst of a grove of 
giant pecans. On the walls were nailed the skins 
of different beasts — raccoons, wildcats, and the 
tree-civet, with its ringed tail. The Mexican's 
brown wife and children were in the hut, but 
the man himself and the goats were off in the 
forest, and it took us three or four hours' search 
before we found him. Then it was nearly noon, 
and we lunched in his hut, a square building of 
split logs, with bare earth floor, and roof of clap- 
boards and bark. Our lunch consisted of goat's 
meat and pan de mats. The Mexican, a broad- 
chested man with a stolid Indian face, was evi- 
dently quite a sportsman, and had two or three 
half-starved hounds, besides the funny, hairless 
little house dogs, of which Mexicans seem so fond. 

Having borrowed the javalina hound of which 
we were in search, we rode off in quest of our game, 
the two dogs trotting gayly ahead. The one which 
had been living at the ranch had evidently fared 
well, and was very fat; the other was little else 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 153 

but skin and bone, but as alert and knowing as 
any New York street-boy, with the same air of 
disreputable capacity. It was this hound which 
always did most in finding the javalinas and 
bringing them to bay, his companion's chief use 
being to make a noise and lend the moral sup- 
port of his presence. 

We rode away from the river on the dry up- 
lands, where the timber, though thick, was small, 
consisting almost exclusively of the thorny mes- 
quites. Mixed among them were prickly pears, 
standing as high as our heads on horseback, and 
Spanish bayonets, looking in the distance like 
small palms ; and there were many other kinds of 
cactus, all with poisonous thorns. Two or three 
times the dogs got on an old trail and rushed off 
giving tongue, whereat we galloped madly after 
them, ducking and dodging through and among 
the clusters of spine -bearing trees and cactus, not 
without getting a considerable number of thorns 
in our hands and legs. It was very dry and hot. 
Where the javalinas live in droves in the river 
bottoms they often drink at the pools ; but when 
some distance from water they seem to live quite 
comfortably on the prickly pear, slaking their 
thirst by eating its hard, juicy fibre. 

At last, after several false alarms, and gallops 
which led to nothing, when it lacked but an hour 
of sundown we struck a band of five of the little 



154 The Wilderness Hunter 

wild hogs. They were running off through the 
mesquites with a peculiar hopping or bounding 
motion, and we all, dogs and men, tore after 
them instantly. 

Peccaries are very fast for a few hundred yards, 
but speedily tire, lose their wind, and come to bay. 
Almost immediately one of these, a sow, as it 
turned out, wheeled and charged at Moore as he 
passed, Moore never seeing her but keeping on 
after another. The sow then stopped and stood 
still, chattering her teeth savagely, and I jumped 
off my horse and dropped her dead with a shot in 
the spine, over the shoulders. Moore meanwhile 
had dashed off after his pig in one direction, and 
killed the little beast with a shot from the saddle 
when it had come to bay, turning and going 
straight at him. Two of the peccaries got off; 
the remaining one, a rather large boar, was fol- 
lowed by the two dogs, and as soon as I had killed 
the sow I leaped again on my horse and made 
after them, guided by the yelping and baying. 
In less than a quarter of a mile they were on his 
haunches, and he wheeled and stood under a 
bush, charging at them when they came near 
him, and once catching one, inflicting an ugly 
cut. All the while his teeth kept going like cas- 
tanets, with a rapid champing sound. I ran up 
close and killed him by a shot through the back- 
bone where it joined the neck. His tusks were fine. 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 155 

The few minutes' chase on horseback was great 
fun, and there was a certain excitement in seeing 
the fierce Httle creatures come to bay; but the 
true way to kill these peccaries would be with the 
spear. They could often be speared on horse- 
back, and where this was impossible, by using 
dogs to bring them to bay, they could readily be 
killed on foot; though, as they are very active, 
absolutely fearless, and inflict a most formidable 
bite, it would usually be safest to have two men 
go at one together. Peccaries are not difficult 
beasts to kill, because their short wind and their 
pugnacity make them come to bay before hounds 
so quickly. Two or three good dogs can bring to 
a halt a herd of considerable size. They then all 
stand in a bunch, or else with their sterns against 
a bank, chattering their teeth at their antago- 
nists. When angry and at bay, they get their 
legs close together, their shoulders high, and their 
bristles all ruffled and look the very incarnation 
of anger, and they fight with reckless indifference 
to the very last. Hunters usually treat them 
with a certain amount of caution; but, as a 
matter of fact, I know of but one case where a 
man was hurt by them. He had shot at and 
wounded one, was charged by both it and by its 
two companions, and started to climb a tree ; but 
as he drew himself from the ground, one sprang 
at him and bit him through the calf, inflicting a 



156 The Wilderness Hunter 

very severe wound. I have known of several 
cases of horses being cut, however, and dogs are 
very commonly killed. Indeed, a dog new to the 
business is almost certain to get very badly 
scarred, and no dog that hunts steadily can es- 
cape without some injury. If it runs in right at 
the heads of the animals, the probabilities are that 
it will get killed; and, as a rule, even two good- 
sized hounds cannot kill a peccary, though it is 
no larger than either of them. However, a wary, 
resolute, hard-biting dog of good size speedily gets 
accustomed to the chase, and can kill a peccary 
single-handed, seizing it from behind and worrying 
it to death, or watching its chance and grabbing 
it by the back of the neck where it joins the head. 
Peccaries have delicately moulded short legs, 
and their feet are small, the tracks looking pecu- 
liarly dainty in consequence. Hence, they do 
not swim well, though they take to the water if 
necessary. They feed on roots, prickly pears, 
nuts, insects, lizards, etc. They usually keep en- 
tirely separate from the droves of half -wild swine 
that are so often found in the same neighborhoods ; 
but in one case, on this very ranch where I was 
staying, a peccary deliberately joined a party of 
nine pigs and associated with them. When the 
owner of the pigs came up to them one day the 
peccary manifested great suspicion at his pres- 
ence, and finally sidled close up and threatened to 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 157 

attack him, so that he had to shoot it. The 
ranchman's son told me that he had never but 
once had a peccary assail him unprovoked, and 
even in this case it was his dog that was the 
object of attack, the peccary rushing out at it as 
it followed him home one evening through the 
chaparral. Even aroimd this ranch the peccaries 
had very greatly decreased in numbers, and the 
survivors were learning some caution. In the 
old days it had been no uncommon thing for a 
big band to attack entirely of their own accord, 
and keep a hunter up a tree for hours at a time. 



CHAPTER VII 

HUNTING WITH HOUNDS 

IN hunting American big game with hoimds 
several entirely distinct methods are pur- 
sued. The true wilderness hunters, the men 
who in the early days lived alone in, or moved in 
parties through, the Indian -hatinted solitudes, 
like their successors of to-day, rarely made use 
of a pack of hounds, and, as a rule, did not use 
dogs at all. In the eastern forests occasionally 
an old-time hunter would own one or two track- 
hoimds, slow, with a good nose, intelligent and 
obedient, of use mainly in following wounded 
game. Some Rocky Mountain hunters nowadays 
employ the same kind of dog, but the old-time 
trappers of the great plains and the Rockies led 
such wandering lives of peril and hardship that 
they could not readily take dogs with them. The 
hunters of the Alleghanies and the Adirondacks 
have, however, always used hounds to drive 
deer, killing the animal in the water or at a 
runway. 

As soon, however, as the old wilderness-hunter 
type passes away, hounds come into use among 

158 



Hunting with Hounds 159 

his successors, the rough border settlers of the 
backwoods and the plains. Every such settler is 
apt to have four or five large mongrel dogs with 
hound blood in them, which serve to drive off 
beasts of prey from the sheepfold and cattle-shed, 
and are also used, when the occasion suits, in 
regular hunting, whether after bear or deer. 

Many of the southern planters have always 
kept packs of fox-hounds, which are used in the 
chase, not only of the gray and the red fox, but 
also of the deer, the black bear, and the wildcat. 
The fox the dogs themselves run down and kill, 
but as a rule, in this kind of hunting, when after 
deer, bear, or even wildcat, the hunters carry 
gims with them on their horses, and endeavor 
either to get a shot at the fleeing animal by hard 
and dexterous riding, or else to kill the cat when 
treed, or the bear when it comes to bay. Such 
hunting is great sport. 

Killing driven game by lying in wait for it to 
pass is the very poorest kind of sport that can be 
called legitimate. This is the way the deer is 
usually killed with hounds in the East. In the 
North the red fox is often killed in somewhat 
the same manner, being followed by a slow hound 
and shot at as he circles before the dog. Although 
this kind of fox-hunting is inferior to hunting on 
horseback, it nevertheless has its merits, as the 
man must walk and run well, shoot with some 



i6o The Wilderness Hunter 

accuracy, and show considerable knowledge both 
of the country and of the habits of the game. 

During the last score of years an entirely dif- 
ferent type of dog from the fox-hound has firmly 
established itself in the field of American sport. 
This is the greyhound, whether the smooth- 
haired or the rough-coated Scotch deerhound. 
For half a century the army officers posted in 
the far West have occasionally had greyhounds 
with them, using the dogs to course jack-rabbit, 
coyote, and sometimes deer, antelope, and gray 
wolf. Many of them were devoted to this sport, 
— General Custer, for instance. I have myself 
hunted with many of the descendants of Custer 
hounds. In the early '70's the ranchmen of the 
great plains themselves began to keep greyhounds 
for coursing (as indeed they had already been 
used for a considerable time in California after the 
Pacific coast jack-rabbit), and the sport speedily 
assumed large proportions and a permanent form. 
Nowadays the ranchmen of the cattle country 
not only use their greyhounds after the jack- 
rabbit, but also after every other kind of game 
animal to be found there, the antelope and coyote 
being especial favorites. Many ranchmen soon 
grew to own fine packs, coursing being the sport 
of all sports for the plains. In Texas the wild 
turkey was frequently an object of the chase, and 
wherever the locality enabled deer to be followed 



Hunting with Hounds i6i 

in the open, as for instance in the Indian terri- 
tory, and in many places in the neighborhood of 
the large plains rivers, the whit et ail was a favorite 
quarry, the hunters striving to surprise it in the 
early morning when feeding on the prairie. 

I have myself generally coursed with scratch 
packs, including perhaps a couple of greyhounds, 
a wire-haired deerhound, and two or three long- 
legged mongrels. However, we generally had at 
least one very fast and savage dog — a strike dog 
— in each pack, and the others were of assistance 
in turning the game, sometimes in tiring it, and 
usually in helping to finish it at the worry. With 
such packs I have had many a wildly exciting ride 
over the great grassy plains lying near the Little 
Missouri and the Knife and Heart rivers. Usually, 
our proceedings on such a hunt were perfectly 
simple. We started on horseback, and when 
reaching favorable ground beat across it in a long 
scattered line of men and dogs. Anything that 
we put up, from a fox to a coyote or a prongbuck, 
was fair game, and was instantly followed at full 
speed. The animals we most frequently killed 
were jack-rabbits. They always gave good runs, 
though like other game they differed much indi- 
vidually in speed. The foxes did not run so well, 
and, whether they were the little swift or the big 
red prairie-fox, they were speedily snapped up if 
the dogs had a fair showing. Once our dogs 



VOL. II. — II. 



i62 The Wilderness Hunter 

roused a blacktail buck close up out of a brush 
coulie where the ground was moderately smooth, 
and after a headlong chase of a mile they ran 
into him, threw him, and killed him before he 
could rise. (His stiff -legged botinds sent him 
along at a tremendous pace at first, but he seemed 
to tire rather easily.) On two or three occasions 
we killed whitetail deer, and several times ante- 
lope. Usually, however, the antelopes escaped. 
The bucks sometimes made a good fight, but gen- 
erally they were seized while running, some dogs 
catching by the throat, others by the shoulders, 
and others again by the flank just in front of the 
hind leg. Wherever the hold was obtained, if the 
dog made his spring cleverly, the buck was sure 
to come down with a crash, and if the other dogs 
were anywhere near he was probably killed before 
he could rise, although not infrequently the dogs 
themselves were more or less scratched in the con- 
tests. Some greyhounds, even of high breeding, 
proved absolutely useless from timidity, being 
afraid to take hold; but if they got accustomed 
to the chase, being worked with old dogs, and 
had any pluck at all, they proved singularly fear- 
less. A big ninety -pound greyhound or Scotch 
deerhound is a very formidable fighting dog; I 
saw one whip a big mastiff in short order, his 
wonderful agility being of more account than his 
adversary's superior weight. 



Hunting with Hounds 163 

The proper way to course, however, is to take 
the dogs out in a wagon and drive them thus 
until the game is seen. This prevents their being 
tired out. In my own hunting, most of the ante- 
lope aroused got away, the dogs being jaded when 
the chase began. But really fine greyhounds, 
accustomed to work together and to hunt this 
species of game, will usually render a good ac- 
count of a prongbuck if two or three are slipped 
at once, fresh, and within a moderate distance. 

Although most Westerners take more kindly to 
the rifle, now and then one is found who is a 
devotee of the hound. Such a one was an old 
Missourian, who may be called Mr. Cowley, whom 
I knew when he was living on a ranch in North 
Dakota, west of the Missouri. Mr. Cowley was a 
primitive person, of much nerve, which he showed 
not only in the hunting-field but in the startling 
political conventions of the place and period. He 
was quite well off, but he was above the niceties 
of personal vanity. His hunting garb was that 
in which he also paid his rare formal calls — calls 
throughout which he always preserved the gravity 
of an Indian, though having a disconcerting way 
of suddenly tip-toeing across the room to some 
unfamiliar object, such as a peacock screen or 
a vase, feeling it gently with one forefinger, 
and returning with noiseless gait to his chair, 
unmoved, and making no comment. On the 



1 64 The Wilderness Hunter 

morning of a hunt he would always appear on a 
stout horse, clad in a long linen duster, a huge club 
in his hand, and his trousers working half-way 
up his legs. He hunted everything on all possible 
occasions ; and he never under any circumstances 
shot an animal that the dogs could kill. Once, 
when a skunk got into his house, with the direful 
stupidity of its perverse kind, he turned the 
hounds on it — a manifestation of sporting spirit 
which aroused the ire of even his long-suffering 
wife. As for his dogs, provided they could run 
and fight, he cared no more for their looks than 
for his own; he preferred the animal to be half 
greyhound, but the other half could be fox-hound, 
collie, or setter — it mattered nothing to him. They 
were a wicked, hard-biting crew for all that, and 
Mr. Cowley, in his flapping linen duster, was a first- 
class hunter and a good rider. He went almost 
mad with excitement in every chase. His pack 
usually hunted coyote, fox, jack-rabbit, and deer, 
and I have had more than one good run with it. 
My own experience is too limited to allow me 
to pass judgment with certainty as to the relative 
speed of the different beasts of the chase, espe- 
cially as there is so much individual variation. I 
consider the antelope the fleetest of all, however ; 
and in this opinion I am sustained by Colonel 
Roger D. Williams, of Lexington, Kentucky, who, 
more than any other American, is entitled to 



Huntino^ with Hounds 165 



^& 



speak upon coursing, and especially upon cours- 
ing large game. Colonel Williams, like a true 
son of Kentucky, has bred his own thoroughbred 
horses and thoroughbred hounds for many years; 
and during a series of long hunting trips extend- 
ing over nearly a quarter of a century he has 
tried his pack on almost every game animal to 
be found among the foothills of the Rockies and 
on the great plains. His dogs, both smooth- 
haired greyhounds and rough-coated deerhounds, 
have been bred by him for generations with a 
special view to the chase of big game — not merely 
of hares ; they are large animals, excelling not only 
in speed but also in strength, endurance, and 
ferocious courage. The survivors of his old pack 
are literally seamed all over with the scars of in- 
numerable battles. When several dogs were to- 
gether they would stop a bull elk, and fearlessly 
assail a bear or cougar. This pack scored many 
a triumph over blacktail, whitetail, and prong- 
buck. For a few hundred yards the deer were 
very fast; but in a run of any duration the ante- 
lope showed much greater speed, and gave the 
dogs far more trouble, although always overtaken 
in the end, if a good start had been obtained. 
Colonel Williams is a firm believer in the power 
of the thoroughbred horse to outrun any animal 
that breathes, in a long chase ; he has not infre- 
quently run down deer, when they were jumped 



i66 The Wilderness Hunter 

some miles from cover; and on two or three oc- 
casions he ran down uninjured antelope, but in 
each case only after a desperate ride of miles, 
which in one instance resulted in the death of his 
gallant horse. 

This coursing on the prairie, especially after 
big game, is an exceedingly manly and attract- 
ive sport; the furious galloping, often over 
rough ground with an occasional deep washout 
or gully, the sight of the gallant hounds running 
and tackling, and the exhilaration of the pure 
air and wild surroundings, all combine to give it 
a peculiar zest. But there is really less need of 
bold and skilful horsemanship than in the other- 
wise less attractive and more artificial sport of 
fox-hunting, or riding to hounds, in a closed and 
long-settled country. 

Those of us who are in part of southern blood 
have a hereditary right to be fond of cross- 
country riding; for our forefathers in Virginia, 
Georgia, or the Carolinas, have for six generations 
followed the fox with horse, horn, and hound. 
In the long-settled Northern States the sport has 
been less popular, though much more so now than 
formerly; yet it has always existed, here and 
there, and in certain places has been followed 
quite steadily. 

In no place in the Northeast is hunting the wild 
red fox put on a more genuine and healthy basis 



Hunting with Hounds 167 

than in the Genesee valley, in central New York. 
There has always been fox-hunting in this valley, 
the farmers having good horses and being fond 
of sport ; but it was conducted in a very irregular, 
primitive manner, until some twenty years ago 
Mr. Austin Wadsworth turned his attention to 
it. He has been master of fox-hounds ever since, 
and no pack in the country has yielded better 
sport than his, or has brought out harder riders 
among the men and stronger jumpers among the 
horses. Mr. Wadsworth began his hunting by 
picking up some of the various trencher-fed hounds 
of the neighborhood, the hunting of that period 
being managed on the principle of each farmer 
bringing to the meet the hound or hounds he 
happened to possess, and appearing on foot or 
horseback, as his fancy dictated. Having gotten 
together some of these native hounds and started 
fox-hunting in localities where the ground was so 
open as to necessitate following the chase on 
horseback, Mr. Wadsworth imported a number 
of dogs from the best English kennels. He found 
these to be much faster than the American dogs 
and more accustomed to work together, but less 
enduring, and without such good noses. The 
American hounds were very obstinate and self- 
willed. Each wished to work out the trail for 
himself. But once found, they would puzzle it 
out, no matter how cold, and would follow it, if 



1 68 The Wilderness Hunter 

necessary, for a day and night. By a judicious 
crossing of the two Mr. Wadsworth finally got 
his present fine pack, which, for its own particular 
work on its own ground, would be hard to beat. 
The country ridden over is well wooded, and there 
are many foxes „ The abundance of cover, how- 
ever, naturally decreases the number of kills. It 
is a very fertile land, and there are few farming 
regions more beautiful, for it is prevented from 
being too tame in aspect by the number of bold 
hills and deep ravines. Most of the fences are 
high post-and-rails or "snake" fences, although 
there is an occasional stone wall, haha, or water- 
jump. The steepness of the ravines and the 
density of the timber make it necessary for a 
horse to be sure-footed and able to scramble any- 
where, and the fences are so high that none but 
very good jumpers can possibly follow the pack. 
Most of the horses used are bred by the farmers 
in the neighborhood, or are from Canada, and they 
usually have thoroughbred or trotting-stock blood 
in them. 

One of the pleasantest days I ever passed in the 
saddle was after Mr. Wadsworth's hounds. I was 
staying with him at the time, in company with my 
friend Senator Cabot Lodge, of Boston. The meet 
was about twelve miles distant from the house. It 
was only a small field of some twenty-five riders, 
but there was not one who did not mean going. 



Hunting with Hounds 169 

I was mounted on a young horse, a powerful, big- 
boned black, a great jumper, though perhaps a 
trifle hot-headed. Lodge was on a fine bay, 
which could both run and jump. There were 
two or three other New Yorkers and Bostonians 
present, several men who had come up from Buf- 
falo for the run, a couple of retired army officers, 
a number of farmers from the neighborhood, and, 
finally, several members of a noted local family 
of hard riders, who formed a class by themselves, 
all having taken naturally to every variety of 
horsemanship from earliest infancy. 

It was a thoroughly democratic assemblage; 
every one was there for sport, and nobody cared 
an ounce how he or anybody else was dressed. 
Slouch hats, brown coats, corduroy breeches, and 
leggings, or boots, were the order of the day. 
We cast off in a thick wood. The dogs struck a 
trail almost immediately and were off with clam- 
orous yelping, while the hunt thundered after 
them like a herd of buffaloes. We went head- 
long down the hillside into and across a brook. 
Here the trail led straight up a sheer bank. Most 
of the riders struck off to the left for an easier 
place, which was unfortunate for them, for the 
eight of us who went straight up the side (one 
man's horse falling back with him) were the only 
ones who kept on terms with the hounds. Almost 
as soon as we got to the top of the bank we came 



170 The Wilderness Hunter 

out of the woods over a low but awkward rail 
fence, where one of our number, who was riding 
a very excitable sorrel colt, got a fall. This left 
but six, including the whip. There were two or 
three large fields with low fences; then we came 
to two high, stiff doubles, the first real jumping 
of the day, the fences being over four feet six, 
and so close together that the horses barely had 
a chance to gather themselves. We got over, 
however, crossed two or three stump-strewn fields, 
galloped through an open wood, picked our way 
across a marshy spot, jumped a small brook and 
two or three stiff fences, and then came a check. 
Soon the hounds recovered the line and swung off 
to the right, back across four or five fields, so as 
to enable the rest of the hunt, by making an 
angle, to come up. Then we jumped over a very 
high board fence into the main road, out of it 
again, and on over ploughed fields and grass- 
lands, separated by stiff snake fences. The run 
had been fast and the horses were beginning to 
tail. By the time we suddenly rattled down into 
a deep ravine and scrambled up the other side 
through thick timber there were but four of us 
left. Lodge and myself being two of the lucky 
ones. Beyond this ravine we came to one of the 
worst jumps of the day, a fence out of the wood, 
which was practicable only at one spot, where a 
kind of cattle trail led up to a panel. It was 



Hunting with Hounds 171 

within an inch or two of five feet high. How- 
ever, the horses, thoroughly trained to timber 
jumping and to rough and hard scrambling in 
awkward places, and by this time well quieted, 
took the bars without mistake, each one in turn 
trotting or cantering up to within a few yards, 
then making a couple of springs and bucking over 
with a great twist of the powerful haunches. I 
may explain that there was not a horse of the 
four that had not a record of five feet six inches 
in the ring. We now got into a perfect tangle 
of ravines, and the fox went to earth ; and though 
we started one or two more in the course of the 
afternoon, we did not get another really first-class 
run. 

At Geneseo the conditions for the enjoyment 
of this sport are exceptionally favorable. In the 
Northeast generally, although there are now a 
number of well-established hunts, at least nine 
out of ten runs are after a drag. Most of the 
hunts are in the neighborhood of great cities, and 
are mainly kept up by young men who come 
from them. A few of these are men of leisure, 
who can afford to devote their whole time to 
pleasure; but much the larger number are men 
in business, who work hard and are obliged to 
make their sports accommodate themselves to 
their more serious occupations. Once or twice 
a week they can get off for an afternoon's ride 



172 The Wilderness Hunter 

across country, and they then wish to be abso- 
lutely certain of having their run, and of having 
it at the appointed time; and the only way to 
insure this is to have a drag-hunt. It is not the 
lack of foxes that has made the sport so com- 
monly take the form of riding to drag-hounds, 
but rather the fact that the majority of those 
who keep it up are hardworking business men || 

who wish to make the most out of every moment 
of the little time they can spare from their regu- 
lar occupations. A single ride across country, or 
an afternoon at polo, will yield more exercise, fun, 
and excitement than can be got out of a week's 
decorous and dull riding in the park, and many 
young fellows have waked up to this fact. 

At one time I did a good deal of hunting with 
the Meadowbrook hounds in the northern part of 
Long Island. There were plenty of foxes around 
us, both red and gray, but partly for the reasons 
given above, and partly because the covers were 
so large and so nearly continuous, they were not 
often hunted, although an effort was always made 
to have one run every week or so after a wild fox, 
in order to give a chance for the hounds to be 
properly worked and to prevent the runs from be- 
coming a mere succession of steeple-chases. The 
sport was mainly drag-hunting, and was most ex- 
citing, as the fences were high and the pace fast. 
The Long Island country needs a peculiar style 



Hunting with Hounds 173 

of horse, the first requisite being that he shall be 
a very good and high-timber jumper. Quite a 
number of crack English and Irish hunters have 
at different times been imported, and some of 
them have turned out pretty well ; but when they 
first come over they are utterly imable to cross 
our country, blundering badly at the high timber. 
Few of them have done as well as the American 
horses. I have hunted half a dozen times in 
England, with the Pytchely, Essex, and North 
Warwickshire, and it seems to me probable that 
English thoroughbreds, in a grass country, and 
over the peculiar kinds of obstacles they have on 
the other side of the water, would gallop away from 
a field of our Long Island horses; for they have 
speed and bottom, and are great weight carriers. 
But on our own ground, where the cross-country 
riding is more like leaping a succession of five- 
and six-bar gates than anything else, they do not 
as a rule, in spite of the enormous prices paid for 
them, show themselves equal to the native stock. 
The highest recorded jump, seven feet two inches, 
was made by the American horse Filemaker, 
which I saw ridden in the very front by Mr. H. L. 
Herbert, in the hunt at Sagamore Hill, about to 
be described. 

When I was a member of the Meadowbrook 
hunt, most of the meets were held within a 
dozen miles or so of the kennels : at Farmingdale, 



174 The Wilderness Hunter 

Woodbury, Wheatly, Locust Valley, Syosset, or 
near any one of twenty other queer, quaint old 
Long Island hamlets. They were almost always 
held in the afternoon, the business men who had 
come down from the city jogging over behind the 
hounds to the appointed place, where they were 
met by the men who had ridden over direct 
from their country-houses. If the meet was an 
important one, there might be a crowd of on- 
lookers in every kind of trap, from a four-in-hand 
drag to a spider-wheeled buggy drawn by a pair 
of long-tailed trotters, the money value of which 
many times surpassed that of the two best hunt- 
ers in the whole field. Now and then a breakfast 
would be given the hunt at some country-house, 
when the whole day was devoted to the sport; 
perhaps after wild foxes in the morning, with a 
drag in the afternoon. 

After one meet, at Sagamore Hill, I had the 
curiosity to go on foot over the course we had 
taken, measuring the jumps; for it is very diffi- 
cult to form a good estimate of a fence's height 
when in the field, and five feet of timber seems 
a much easier thing to take when sitting around 
the fire after dinner than it does when actually 
faced while the hounds are running. On the par- 
ticular hunt in question we ran about ten miles, 
at a rattling pace, with only two checks, crossing 
somewhat more than sixty fences, most of them 



Hunting with Hounds 175 

post-and-rails, stiff as steel, the others being of 
the kind called '' Virginia " or snake, and not more 
than ten or a dozen in the whole lot under four 
feet in height. The highest measured five feet 
and half an inch, two others were four feet eleven, 
and nearly a third of the number averaged about 
four and a half. There were also several rather 
awkward doubles. When the hounds were cast 
off some forty riders were present, but the first 
fence was a savage one, and stopped all who 
did not mean genuine hard going. Twenty -six 
horses crossed it, one of them ridden by a lady. 
A mile or so farther on, before there had been a 
chance for much tailing, we came to a five-bar 
gate, out of a road — a jump of just four feet five 
inches from the take-off. Up to this, of course, 
we went one at a time, at a trot or hand-gallop, 
and twenty-five horses cleared it in succession 
without a single refusal and with but one mis- 
take. Owing to the severity of the pace, com^ 
bined with the average height of the timber 
(although no one fence was of phenomenally 
noteworthy proportions), a good many falls took 
place, resulting in an unusually large percentage 
of accidents. The master partly dislocated one 
knee, another man broke two ribs, and another 
— the present writer — broke his arm. However, 
almost all of us managed to struggle through to 
the end in time to see the death. 



176 The Wilderness Hunter 

On this occasion I owed my broken arm to 
the fact that my horse, a solemn animal, origi- 
nally taken out of a buggy, though a very clever 
fencer, was too coarse to gallop alongside the 
blooded beasts against which he was pitted. But 
he was so easy in his gaits, and so quiet, being 
ridden with only a snaffle, that there was no dif- 
ficulty in following to the end of the run. I had 
divers adventures on this horse. Once I tried a 
pair of so-called "safety" stirrups, which speedily 
fell out, and I had to ride through the run with- 
out any, at the cost of several tumbles. Much 
the best hunter I ever owned was a sorrel horse 
named Sagamore. He was from Geneseo, was 
fast, a remarkably good jumper, of great endu- 
rance, as quick on his feet as a cat, and with a 
dauntless heart. He never gave me a fall, and 
generally enabled me to see all the run. 

It would be very unfair to think the sport 
especially dangerous on account of the occasional 
accidents that happen. A man who is fond of 
riding, but who sets a good deal of value — either 
for the sake of himself, his family, or his busi- 
ness — upon his neck and limbs, can hunt with 
much safety if he gets a quiet horse, a safe fencer, 
and does not try to stay in the front rank. Most 
accidents occur to men on green or wild horses, 
or else to those who keep in front only at the 
expense of pumping their mounts; and a fall 



Hunting with Hounds 177 

with a done-out beast is always peculiarly dis- 
agreeable. Most falls, however, do no harm 
whatever to either horse or rider, and after they 
have picked themselves up and shaken them- 
selves, the couple ought to be able to go on just 
as well as ever. Of course a man who wishes to 
keep in the first flight must expect to face a 
certain number of tumbles; but even he will 
probably not be hurt at all, and he can avoid 
many a mishap by easing up his horse whenever 
he can — that is, by always taking a gap when 
possible, going at the lowest panel of every fence, 
and not calling on his animal for all there is in 
him unless it cannot possibly be avoided. It 
must be remembered that hard riding is a very 
different thing from good riding; though a 
good rider to hounds must also at times ride 
hard. 

Cross-country riding in the rough is not a diffi- 
cult thing to learn; always provided the would- 
be learner is gifted with or has acquired a fairly 
stout heart, for a constitutionally timid person is 
out of place in the hunting field. A really finished 
cross-country rider, a man who combines hand 
and seat, heart and head, is of course rare; the 
standard is too high for most of us to hope to 
reach. But it is comparatively easy to acquire 
a light hand and a capacity to sit fairly well down 
in the saddle ; and when a man has once got these, 



VOL. II. — 12. 



178 The Wilderness Hunter 

he will find no especial difficulty in following the 
hounds on a trained hunter. 

Fox-hunting is a great sport, but it is as foolish 
to make a fetish of it as it is to decry it. The 
fox is hunted merely because there is no larger 
game to follow. As long as wolves, deer, or ante- 
lope remain in the land, and in a country where 
hounds and horsemen can work, no one would 
think of following the fox. It is pursued because 
the bigger beasts of the chase have been killed 
out. In England it has reached its present prom- 
inence only within two centuries; nobody fol- 
lowed the fox while the stag and the boar were 
common. At the present day, on Exmoor, where 
the wild stag is still found, its chase ranks ahead 
of that of the fox. It is not really the hunting 
proper which is the point in fox-hunting. It is 
the horsemanship, the galloping and jumping, and 
the being out in the open air. Very naturally, 
however, men who have passed their lives as fox- 
hunters grow to regard the chase and the object 
of it alike with superstitious veneration. They 
attribute almost mythical characters to the ani- 
mal. I know some of my good Virginian friends, 
for instance, who seriously believe that the Vir- 
ginia red fox is a beast quite unparalleled for 
speed and endurance no less than for cunning. 
This is, of course, a mistake. Compared with a 
wolf, an antelope, or even a deer, the fox's speed 



Hunting with Hounds 179 

and endurance do not stand very high. A good 
pack of hounds starting him close would speedily 
run into him in the open. The reason that the 
hunts last so long in some cases is because of 
the nature of the ground which favors the fox at 
the expense of the dogs, because of his having the 
advantage in the start, and because of his cun- 
ning in turning to account everything which will 
tell in his favor and against his pursuers. In 
the same way I know plenty of English friends 
who speak with bated breath of fox-hunting 
but look down upon riding to drag-hounds. Of 
course there is a difference in the two sports, 
and the fun of actually hunting the wild beast 
in the one case more than compensates for the 
fact that in the other the riding is apt to be 
harder and the jumping higher; but both sports 
are really artificial, and in their essentials alike. 
To any man who has hunted big game in a wild 
country the stress laid on the differences between 
them seems a little absurd, in fact cockney. It 
is of course nothing against either that it is arti- 
ficial ; so are all sports in long-civilized countries, 
from lacrosse to ice-yachting. 

It is amusing to see how natural it is for each 
man to glorify the sport to which he has been 
accustomed at the expense of any other. The 
old-school French sportsman, for instance, who 
followed the boar, stag, and hare with his hounds, 



i8o The Wilderness Hunter 

always looked down upon the chase of the fox; 
whereas the average Englishman not only asserts 
but seriously believes that no other kind of chase 
can compare with it, although in actual fact the 
very points in which the Englishman is superior 
to the continental sportsman — -that is, in hard 
and straight riding and jumping — are those which 
drag-hunting tends to develop rather more than 
fox-hunting proper. In the mere hunting itself 
the continental sportsman is often unsurpassed. 

Once, beyond the Missouri, I met an expatriated 
German baron, an unfortunate who had failed ut- 
terly in the rough life of the frontier. He was 
living in a squalid little hut, almost unfurnished, 
but studded around with the diminutive horns 
of the European roebuck. These were the only 
treasures he had taken with him to remind him 
of his former life, and he was never tired of de- 
scribing what fun it was to shoot roebucks when 
driven by the little crooked-legged dachshunds. 
There were plenty of deer and antelope round- 
about, yielding good sport to any rifleman, but 
this exile cared nothing for them; they were not 
roebucks, and they could not be chased with his 
beloved dachshunds. So, among my neighbors in 
the cattle country, is a gentleman from France, a 
very successful ranchman, and a thoroughly good 
fellow; he cares nothing for hunting big game, 
and will not go after it, but is devoted to shoot- 



Hunting with Hounds i8i 

ing cottontails in the snow, this being a pastime 
having much resemblance to one of the recog- 
nized sports of his own land. 

However, our own people afford precisely simi- 
lar instances. I have met plenty of men accus- 
tomed to killing wild turkeys and deer with 
small-bore rifles in the southern forests who, 
when they got on the plains and in the Rockies, 
were absolutely helpless. They not only failed 
to become proficient in the art of killing big 
game at long ranges with the large-bore rifle, at 
the cost of fatiguing tramps, but they had a posi- 
tive distaste for the sport and would never allow 
that it equalled their own stealthy hunts in east- 
ern forests. So I know plenty of men, experts 
with the shotgun, who honestly prefer shooting 
quail in the East over well-trained setters or 
pointers, to the hardier, manlier sports of the 
wilderness. 

As it is with hunting, so it is with riding. The 
cowboy's scorn of every method of riding save 
his own is as profound and as ignorant as is that 
of the school-rider, jockey, or fox-hunter. The 
truth is that each of these is best in his own 
sphere and is at a disadvantage when made to do 
the work of any of the others. For all-around 
riding and horsemanship, I think the West Point 
graduate is somewhat ahead of any of them. 
Taken as a class, however, and compared with 



1 82 The Wilderness Hunter 

other classes as numerous, and not with a few 
exceptional individuals, the cowboy, like the 
Rocky Mountain stage-driver, has no superiors 
an3rwhere for his own work; and they are fine 
fellows, these iron-nerved reinsmen and rough 
riders. 

When Buffalo Bill took his cowboys to Europe 
they made a practice in England, France, Ger- 
many, and Italy, of offering to break and ride, in 
their own fashion, any horse given them. They 
were frequently given spoiled animals from the 
cavalry services in the different countries which 
they passed, animals with which the trained 
horse-breakers of the European armies could do 
nothing; and yet in almost all cases the cow- 
punchers and bronco-busters with Buffalo Bill 
mastered these beasts as readily as they did their 
own western horses. At their own work of mas- 
tering and riding rough horses they could not 
be matched by their more civilized rivals; but I 
have great doubts whether they in turn would 
not have been beaten if they had essayed kinds 
of horsemanship utterly alien to their past ex- 
perience, such as riding mettled thoroughbreds in 
a steeple-chase, or the like. Other things being 
equal (which, however, they generally are not), 
a bad, big horse fed on oats offers a rather more 
difficult problem than a bad little horse fed on 
grass. After Buffalo Bill's men had returned, I 



Hunting with Hounds 183 

occasionally heard it said that they had tried cross- 
country riding in England, and had shown them- 
selves pre-eminently skilful thereat, doing better 
than the English fox-hunters, but this I take the 
liberty to disbelieve. I was in England at the 
time, hunted occasionally myself, and was with 
many of the men who were all the time riding in 
the most famous hunts; men, too, who were 
greatly impressed with the exhibitions of rough 
riding then being given by Buffalo Bill and his 
men, and who talked of them much; and yet I 
never, at the time, heard of an instance in which 
one of the cowboys rode to hounds with any 
marked success.' In the same way, I have some- 
times in New York or London heard of men who, 
it was alleged, had been out West and proved 
better riders than the bronco-busters themselves, 
just as I have heard of similar men who were able 
to go out hunting in the Rockies or on the plains 
and get more game than the western hunters ; but 
in the course of a long experience in the West I 
have yet to see any of these men, whether from 
the eastern States or from Europe, actually show 
such superiority or perform such feats. 

It would be interesting to compare the per- 

^ It is, however, quite possible, now that Buffalo Bill's 
company has crossed the water several times, that a number 
of the cowboys have by practice become proficient in riding 
to hounds, and in steeple-chasing. 



1 84 The Wilderness Hunter 

formances of the Australian stock-riders with 
those of our own cow-punchers, both in cow-work 
and in riding. The Austrahans have an entirely 
different kind of saddle, and the use of the rope 
is unknown among them. A couple of years ago 
the famous western rifle-shot. Carver, took some 
cowboys out to Australia, and I am informed 
that many of the Australians began themselves 
to practise with the rope after seeing the way 
it was used by the Americans. An Australian 
gentleman, Mr. A. J. Sage, of Melbourne, to whom 
I had written asking how the saddles and styles of 
riding compared, answered me as follows: 

"With regard to saddles, here it is a moot 
question which is the better, yours or ours, for 
buck-jumpers. Carver's boys rode in their own 
saddles against our Victorians in theirs, all on 
Australian buckers, and honors seemed easy. 
Each was good in his own style, but the horses 
were not what I should call really good buckers, 
such as you might get on a back station, and 
so there was nothing in the show that could un- 
seat the cowboys. It is only back in the bush 
that you can get a really good bucker. I have 
often seen one of them put both man and saddle 
off." 

This last is a feat I have myself seen per- 
formed in the West. I suppose the amount of it 
is that both the American and the Australian 



Hunting with Hounds 185 

rough riders are, for their own work, just as good 
as men possibly can be. 

One spring I had to leave the East in the midst 
of the hunting season, to join a round-up in the 
cattle country of western Dakota, and it was 
curious to compare the totally different styles of 
riding of the cowboys and the cross-country men. 
A stock-saddle weighs thirty or forty pounds, in- 
stead of ten or fifteen, and needs an utterly dif- 
ferent seat from that adopted in the East. A 
cowboy rides with very long stirrups, sitting 
forked well down between his high pommel and 
cantle, and depends upon balance as well as on 
the grip of his thighs. In cutting out a steer from 
a herd, in breaking a vicious wild horse, in sitting 
a bucking bronco, in stopping a night stampede of 
many hundred maddened animals, or in the per- 
formance of a hundred other feats of reckless and 
daring horsemanship, the cowboy is absolutely 
unequalled; and when he has his own horse-gear 
he sits his animal with the ease of a centaur. 
Yet he is quite helpless the first time he gets 
astride one of the small eastern saddles. One 
summer, while purchasing cattle in Iowa, one of 
of my ranch foremen had to get on an ordinary 
saddle to ride out of town and see a bunch of 
steers. He is perhaps the best rider on the ranch, 
and will without hesitation mount and master 
beasts that I doubt if the boldest rider in one of 



1 86 The Wilderness Hunter 

our eastern hunts would care to tackle ; yet his 
uneasiness on the new saddle was fairly comical. 
At first he did not dare to trot, and the least 
plunge of the horse bid fair to unseat him, nor 
did he begin to get accustomed to the situation 
until the very end of the journey. In fact, the 
two kinds of riding are so very different that a 
man accustomed only to one feels almost as ill 
at ease when he first tries the other as if he had 
never sat on a horse's back before. It is rather 
funny to see a man who only knows one kind, 
and is conceited enough to think that that is 
really the only kind worth knowing, when first 
he is brought into contact with the other. Two 
or three times I have known men try to follow 
hounds on stock-saddles, which are about as ill- 
suited for the purpose as they well can be ; while 
it is even more laughable to see some young fel- 
low from the East or from England, who thinks he 
knows entirely too much about horses to be taught 
by barbarians, attempt in his turn to do cow- work 
with his ordinary riding or hunting rig. It must 
be said, however, that in all probability cowboys 
would learn to ride well across country much sooner 
than the average cross-country rider would master 
the dashing and peculiar style of horsemanship 
shown by those whose life business is to guard the 
wandering herds of the great western plains. 
Of course, riding to hounds, like all sports in 



Hunting with Hounds 187 

long settled, thickly peopled countries, fails to 
develop in its followers some of the hardy quali- 
ties necessarily incident to the wilder pursuits of 
the mountain and the forest. While I was on 
the frontier I was struck by the fact that of the 
men from the eastern States or from England who 
had shown themselves at home to be good riders 
to hounds or had made their records as college 
athletes, a larger proportion failed in the life of 
the wilderness than was the case among those 
who had gained their experience in such rough 
pastimes as mountaineering in the high Alps, 
winter caribou-hunting in Canada, or deer-stalk- 
ing — not deer-driving — in Scotland. 

Nevertheless, of all sports possible in civilized 
countries, riding to hounds is perhaps the best 
if followed as it should be, for the sake of the 
strong excitement, with as much simplicity as 
possible, and not merely as a fashionable amuse- 
ment. It tends to develop moral no less than 
physical qualities; the rider needs nerve and 
head; he must possess daring and resolution, as 
well as a good deal of bodily skill and a certain 
amount of wiry toughness and endurance. 



CHAPTER VIII 

WOLVES AND WOLF-HOUNDS 

THE wolf is the archetype of ravin, the beast 
of waste and desolation. It is still found 
scattered thinly throughout all the wilder 
portions of the United States, but has everywhere 
retreated from the advance of civilization. 

Wolves show an infinite variety in color, size, 
physical formation, and temper. Almost all the 
varieties intergrade with one another, however, so 
that it is very difficult to draw a hard and fast 
line between any two of them. Nevertheless, 
west of the Mississippi there are found two dis- 
tinct types. One is the wolf proper, or big wolf, 
specifically akin to the wolves of the eastern 
States. The other is the little coyote, or prairie 
wolf. The coyote and the big wolf are found 
together in almost all the wilder districts from 
the Rio Grande to the valleys of the Upper Mis- 
souri and the Upper Columbia. Throughout this 
region there is always a sharp line of demark- 
ation, especially in size, between the coyotes 
and the big wolves of any given district; but in 
certain districts the big wolves are very much 

i88 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 189 

larger than their brethren in other districts. In 
the Upper Columbia country, for instance, they 
are very large; along the Rio Grande they are 
small. Dr. Hart Merriam informs me that, ac- 
cording to his experience, the coyote is largest in 
southern California. In many respects the coyote 
differs altogether in habits from its big relative. 
For one thing it is far more tolerant of man. In 
some localities coyotes are more numerous around 
settlements, and even in the close vicinity of large 
towns, than they are in the frowning and desolate 
fastnesses haunted by their grim elder brother. 

Big wolves vary far more in color than the 
coyotes do. I have seen white, black, red, yel- 
low, brown, gray, and grizzled skins, and others 
representing every shade between, although usu- 
ally each locality has its prevailing tint. The 
grizzled, gray, and brown often have precisely 
the coat of the coyote. The difference in size 
among wolves of different localities, and even of 
the same locality, is quite remarkable, and so, 
curiously enough, is the difference in the size of 
the teeth, in some cases even when the body of 
one wolf is as big as that of another. I have 
seen wolves from Texas and New Mexico which 
were undersized, slim animals with rather small 
tusks, in no way to be compared to the long- 
toothed giants of their race that dwell in the 
heavily timbered mountains of the Northwest and 



190 The Wilderness Hunter 

in the far North. As a rule, the teeth of the coyote 
are relatively smaller than those of the gray wolf. 
Formerly, wolves were incredibly abundant in 
certain parts of the coimtry, notably on the great 
plains, where they were known as buffalo- wolves, 
and were regular attendants on the great herds of 
the bison. Every traveller and hunter of the old 
days knew them as among the most common sights 
of the plains, and they followed the hunting par- 
ties and emigrant trains for the sake of the scraps 
left in camp. Now, however, there is no district 
in which they are really abundant. The wolfers, 
or professional wolf -hunters, who killed them by 
poisoning for the sake of their fur, and the cattle- 
men, who likewise killed them by poisoning be- 
cause of their raids on the herds, have doubtless 
been the chief instruments in working their deci- 
mation on the plains. In the '70's and even in 
the early '8o's, many tens of thousands of wolves 
were killed by the wolfers in Montana and northern 
Wyoming and western Dakota. Nowadays, the 
surviving wolves of the plains have learned cau- 
tion ; they no longer move abroad at midday, and 
still less do they dream of hanging on the foot- 
steps of hunter and traveller. Instead of being 
one of the most common they have become one of 
the rarest sights of the plains. A hunter may 
wander far and wide through the plains for months 
nowadays and never see a wolf, though he will 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 191 

probably see many coyotes. However, the dimi- 
nution goes on, not steadily but by fits and starts, 
and, moreover, the beasts now and then change 
their abodes, and appear in numbers in places 
where they have been scarce for a long period. In 
the present winter of 1892-93 big wolves are more 
plentiful in the neighborhood of my ranch than 
they have been for ten years, and have worked 
some havoc among the cattle and young horses. 
The cowboys have been carrying on the usual vin- 
dictive campaign against them; a number have 
been poisoned, and a number of others have fallen 
victims to their greediness, the cowboys surprising 
them when gorged to repletion on the carcass of a 
colt or calf, and, in consequence, unable to run, so 
that they are easily ridden down, roped, and then 
dragged to death. 

Yet even the slaughter wrought by man in cer- 
tain localities does not seem adequate to explain 
the scarcity or extinction of wolves throughout 
the country at large. In most places they are not 
followed any more eagerly than are the other 
large beasts of prey, and they are usually followed 
with less success. Of all animals, the wolf is the 
shyest and hardest to slay. It is almost or quite 
as difficult to still-hunt as the cougar, and is far 
more difficult to kill with hounds, traps, or poison ; 
yet it scarcely holds its own as well as the great 
cat, and it does not begin to hold its own as well 



192 The Wilderness Hunter 

as the bear, a beast certainly more readily killed, 
and one which produces fewer young at a birth. 
Throughout the east the black bear is common in 
many localities from which the wolf has vanished 
completely. It at present exists in very scanty 
numbers in northern Maine and the Adirondacks ; 
is almost or quite extinct in Pennsylvania ; lingers 
here and there in the mountains from West Vir- 
ginia to east Tennessee, and is found in Florida; 
but is everywhere less abundant than the bear. It 
is possible that this destruction of the wolves is 
due to some disease among them, perhaps to hy- 
drophobia, a terrible malady from which it is 
known that they suffer greatly at times. Perhaps 
the bear is helped by its habit of hibernating, 
which frees it from most dangers during winter; 
but this cannot be the complete explanation, for 
in the South it does not hibernate, and yet holds 
its own as well as in the North. What makes it all 
the more curious that the American wolf should 
disappear sooner than the bear, is that the reverse 
is the case with the allied species of Europe, where 
the bear is much sooner killed out of the land. 

Indeed, the differences of this sort between 
nearly related animals are literally inexplicable. 
Much of the difference in temperament between 
such closely allied species as the American and 
European bears and wolves is doubtless due to 
their surroundings and to the instincts they have 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 193 

inherited through many generations ; but for much 
of the variation it is not possible to offer any ex- 
planation. In the same way, there are certain phys- 
ical differences for which it is very hard to account, 
as the same conditions seem to operate in directly 
reverse ways with different animals. No one can 
explain the process of natural selection which has 
resulted in the otter of America being larger than 
the otter of Europe, while the badger is smaller; 
in the mink being with us a much stouter animal 
than its Scandinavian and Russian kinsman, 
while the reverse is true of our sable or pine mar- 
ten. No one can say why the European red deer 
should be a pigmy compared to its giant brother, 
the American wapiti; why the Old World elk 
should average smaller in size than the almost in- 
distinguishable New World moose; and yet the 
bison of Lithuania and the Caucasus be on the 
whole larger and more formidable than its Amer- 
ican cousin. In the same way, no one can tell why 
under like conditions some game, such as the white- 
goat and the spruce grouse, should be tamer than 
other closely allied species, like the mountain 
sheep and ruffed grouse. No one can say why, on 
the whole, the wolf of Scandinavia and northern 
Russia should be larger and more dangerous than 
the average wolf of the Rocky Mountains, while 
between the bears of the same regions the com- 
parison must be exactly reversed. 

VOL. II.— 13. 



194 The Wilderness Hunter 

The difference even among the wolves of differ- 
ent sections of our own country is very notable. 
It may be true that the species as a whole is 
rather weaker and less ferocious than the Euro- 
pean wolf; but it is certainly not true of the 
wolves of certain localities. The great timber 
wolf of the central and northern chains of the 
Rockies and coast ranges is in every way a more 
formidable creature than the buffalo-wolf of the 
plains, although they intergrade. The skins and 
skulls of the wolves of northwestern Montana and 
Washington which I have seen were quite as large 
and showed quite as stout claws and teeth as the 
skins and skulls of Russian and Scandinavian 
wolves, and I believe that these great timber 
wolves are in every way as formidable as their 
Old World kinsfolk. However, they live where 
they come in contact with a population of rifle- 
bearing frontier hunters, who are very different 
from European peasants or Asiatic tribesmen; 
and they have, even when most hungry, a whole- 
some dread of human beings. Yet I doubt if an 
unarmed man would be entirely safe should he, 
while alone in the forest in midwinter, encounter 
a fair-sized pack of ravenously hungry timber 
wolves. 

A full-grown dog-wolf of the northern Rockies, 
in exceptional instances, reaches a height of thirty- 
two inches and a weight of 130 pounds; a big 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 195 

btiffalo-wolf of the Upper Missouri stands thirty or 
thirty-one inches at the shoulder and weighs about 
no pounds. A Texan wolf may not reach over 
eighty pounds. The bitch- wolves are smaller; 
and moreover there is often great variation even 
in the wolves of closely neighboring localities. 

The wolves of the southern plains were not often 
formidable to large animals, even in the days when 
they most abounded. They rarely attacked the 
horses of the hunter, and indeed were but little re- 
garded by these experienced animals. They were 
much more likely to gnaw off the lariat with which 
the horse was tied, than to try to molest the steed 
himself. They preferred to prey on young animals 
or on the weak and disabled. They rarely mo- 
lested a full-grown cow or steer, still less a full- 
grown buffalo, and, if they did attack such an 
animal, it was only when emboldened by numbers. 
In the plains of the Upper Missouri and Saskatch- 
ewan the wolf was, and is, more dangerous, while 
in the northern Rockies his courage and ferocity 
attain their highest pitch. Near my own ranch 
the wolves have sometimes committed great de- 
predations on cattle, but they seem to have queer 
freaks of slaughter. Usually they prey only upon 
calves and sickly animals ; but in midwinter I have 
known one single-handed to attack and kill a well- 
grown steer or cow, disabling its quarry by rapid 
snaps at the hams or flanks. Only rarely have I 



196 The Wilderness Hunter 

known it to seize by the throat. Colts are likewise 
a favorite prey, but with us wolves rarely attack 
full-grown horses. They are sometimes very bold 
in their assaults, falling on the stock while imme- 
diately around the ranch-houses. They even ven- 
ture into the hamlet of Medora itself at night — as 
the coyotes sometimes do by day. In the spring 
of '92 we put on some eastern two-year-old steers; 
they arrived, and were turned loose from the 
stock-yards in a snow-storm, though it was in 
early May. Next morning we found that one had 
been seized, slain, and partially devoured by a big 
wolf at the very gate of the stock-yard ; probably 
the beast had seen it standing near the yard after 
nightfall, feeling miserable after its journey, in 
the storm and its unaccustomed surroundings, 
and had been emboldened to make the assault so 
near town by the evident helplessness of the prey. 
The big timber wolves of the northern Rocky 
Mountains attack every four-footed beast to be 
found where they live. They are far from con- 
tenting themselves with hunting deer and snap- 
ping up the pigs and sheep of the farm. When the 
weather gets cold and food scarce they band to- 
gether in small parties, perhaps of four or five in- 
dividuals, and then assail anything, even a bear or 
a panther. A bull elk or bull moose, when on its 
guard, makes a most dangerous fight ; but a single 
wolf will frequently master the cow of either ani- 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 197 

mal, as well as domestic cattle and horses. In at- 
tacking such large game, however, the wolves like 
to act in concert, one springing at the animal's 
head, and attracting its attention, while the other 
hamstrings it. Nevertheless, one such big wolf 
will kill an ordinary horse. A man I knew, who 
was engaged in packing into the Coeur d'Alenes, 
once witnessed such a feat on the part of a wolf. 
He was taking his pack-train down into a valley 
when he saw a horse grazing therein ; it had been 
turned loose by another packing outfit, because it 
became exhausted. He lost sight of it as the trail 
went down a zigzag, and while it was thus out of 
sight he suddenly heard it utter the appalling 
scream, unlike and more dreadful than any other 
sound, which a horse only utters in extreme fright 
or agony. The scream w^as repeated, and as he 
came in sight again he saw that a great wolf had 
attacked the horse. The poor animal had been 
bitten terribly in its haunches and was cowering 
upon them, while the wolf stood and looked at it 
a few paces off. In a moment or two the horse 
partially recovered and made a desperate bound 
forward, starting at full gallop. Immediately the 
wolf was after it, overhauled it in three or four 
jumps, and then seized it by the hock, while its 
legs were extended, with such violence as to bring 
it completely back on its haunches. It again 
screamed piteously; and this time with a few 



19^ The Wilderness Hunter 

savage snaps the wolf hamstrung and partially 
disembowelled it, and it fell over, having made no 
attempt to defend itself. I have heard of more 
than one incident of this kind. If a horse is a 
good fighter, however, as occasionally, though not 
often happens, it is a most difficult prey for any 
wild beast, and some veteran horses have no fear 
of wolves whatsoever, well knowing that they can 
either strike them down with their fore feet or 
repulse them by lashing out behind. 

Wolves are cunning beasts and will often try to 
lull their prey into unsuspicion by playing round 
and cutting capers. I once saw a young deer and 
a wolf-cub together near the hut of the settler who 
had captured both. The wolf was just old enough 
to begin to feel vicious and bloodthirsty, and to 
show symptoms of attacking the deer. On the 
occasion in question he got loose and ran towards 
it, but it turned, and began to hit him with its 
fore feet, seemingly in sport; whereat he rolled 
over on his back before it, and acted like a puppy 
at play. Soon it turned and walked off; imme- 
diately the wolf, with bristling hair, crawled after, 
and with a pounce seized it by the haunch, and 
would doubtless have murdered the bleating, 
struggling creature, had not the bystanders inter- 
fered. 

Where there are no domestic animals, wolves 
feed on almost anything, from a mouse to an elk. 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 199 

They are redoubted enemies of foxes. They are 
easily able to overtake them in fair chase, and kill 
numbers. If the fox can get into the underbrush, 
however, he can dodge around much faster than 
the wolf, and so escape pursuit. Sometimes one 
wolf will try to put a fox out of a cover while an- 
other waits outside to snap him up. Moreover, 
the wolf kills even closer kinsfolk than the fox. 
When pressed by hunger it will undoubtedly 
sometimes seize a coyote, tear it in pieces, and de- 
vour it, although during most of the year the two 
animals live in perfect harmony. I once myself, 
while out in the deep snow, came across the re- 
mains of a coyote that had been killed in this man- 
ner. Wolves are also very fond of the flesh of 
dogs, and if they get a chance promptly kill and 
eat any dog they can master — and there are but 
few that they cannot. Nevertheless, I have been 
told of one instance in which a wolf struck up 
an extraordinary friendship with a strayed dog, 
and the two lived and hunted together for many 
months, being frequently seen by the settlers of 
the locality. This occurred near Thompson's Falls, 
Montana. 

Usually wolves are found singly, in pairs, or in 
family parties, each having a large beat over 
which it regularly hunts, and also at times shift- 
ing its grounds and travelling immense dis- 
tances in order to take up a temporary abode in 



200 The Wilderness Hunter 

some new locality — for they are great wandeiers. 
It is only under stress of severe weather that 
they band together in packs. They prefer to 
creep on their prey and seize it by a sudden 
pounce, but, unlike the cougar, they also run 
it down in fair chase. Their slouching, tireless 
gallop enables them often to overtake deer, ante- 
lope, or other quarry ; though under favorable cir- 
cumstances, especially if near a lake, the latter 
frequently escape. Whether wolves run cunning 
I do not know ; but I think they must, for coyotes 
certainly do. A coyote cannot run down a jack- 
rabbit; but two or three working together will 
often catch one. Once I saw three start a jack, 
which ran right away from them ; but they spread 
out, and followed. Pretty soon the jack turned 
slightly, and ran near one of the outside ones, saw 
it, became much frightened, and turned at right 
angles, so as soon to nearly run into the other out- 
side one, which had kept straight on. This hap- 
pened several times, and then the confused jack 
lay down under a sage bush and was seized. So 
I have seen two coyotes attempting to get at a 
newly dropped antelope kid. One would make a 
feint of attack, and lure the dam into a rush at 
him, while the other stole round to get at the kid. 
The dam, as always with these spirited little prong- 
bucks, made a good fight, and kept the assailants 
at bay ; yet I think they would have succeeded in 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 201 

the end, had I not interfered. Coyotes are bold 
and cunning in raiding the settlers' barn-yards for 
lambs and hens ; and they have an especial liking 
for tame cats. If there are coyotes in the neigh- 
borhood a cat which gets into the habit of wan- 
dering from home is surely lost. 

Though I have never known wolves to attack a 
man, yet in the wilder portion of the far North- 
west I have heard them come around camp very 
close, growling so savagely as to make one almost 
reluctant to leave the camp-fire and go out into 
the darkness unarmed. Once I was camped in the 
fall near a lonely little lake in the mountains, by 
the edge of quite a broad stream. Soon after 
nightfall three or four wolves came around camp 
and kept me awake by their sinister and dismal 
howling. Two or three times they came so close 
to the fire that I could hear them snap their jaws 
and growl, and at one time I positively thought 
that they intended to try to get into camp, so ex- 
cited were they by the smell of the fresh meat. 
After a while they stopped howling; and then all 
was silent for an hour or so. I let the fire go out 
and was turning into bed when I suddenly heard 
some animal of considerable size come down to the 
stream nearly opposite me and begin to splash 
across, first wading, then swimming. It was pitch 
dark and I could not possibly see, but I felt sure 
it was a wolf. However, after coming half-way 



202 The Wilderness Hunter 

over, it changed its mind and swam back to the 
opposite bank; nor did I see or hear anything 
more of the night marauders. 

Five or six times on the plains or on my ranch I 
have had shots at wolves, always obtained by acci- 
dent, and always, I regret to say, missed. Often the 
wolf when seen was running at full speed for cover, 
or else was so far off that though motionless my 
shots went wide of it. But once have I with my 
own rifle killed a wolf, and this was while travel- 
ling with a pack-train in the mountains. We 
had been making considerable noise, and L never 
understood how an animal so wary permitted our 
near approach. He did, nevertheless, and just as 
we came to a little stream which we were to ford 
I saw him get on a dead log some thirty yards dis- 
tant and walk slowly off with his eyes turned 
toward us. The first shot smashed his shoulders 
and brought him down. 

The wolf is one of the animals which can only 
be hunted successfully with dogs. Most dogs, 
however, do not take at all kindly to the pursuit. 
A wolf is a terrible fighter. He will decimate a 
pack of hounds by rabid snaps with his giant jaws 
while suffering little damage himself ; nor are the 
ordinary big dogs, supposed to be fighting dogs, 
able to tackle him without special training. I 
have known one wolf to kill a bulldog which had 
rushed at it with a single snap, while another 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 203 

which had entered the yard of a Montana ranch- 
house slew in quick succession both of the large 
mastiffs by which it was assailed. The immense 
agility and ferocity of the wild beast, the terrible 
snap of his long-toothed jaws, and the admi- 
rable training in which he always is, give him a 
great advantage over fat, small-toothed, smooth- 
skinned dogs, even though they are nominally 
supposed to belong to the fighting classes. In the 
way that bench competitions are arranged now- 
adays this is but natural, as there is no temptation 
to produce a worthy class of fighting dog when 
the rewards are given upon technical points wholly 
unconnected with the dog's usefulness. A prize- 
winning mastiff or bulldog may be almost useless 
for the only purposes for which his kind is ever 
useful at all. A mastiff, if properly trained and 
of sufficient size, might possibly be able to meet a 
young or undersized Texan wolf ; but I have never 
seen a dog of this variety which I would esteem a 
match singlehanded for one of the huge timber 
wolves of western Montana. Even if the dog was 
the heavier of the two, his teeth and claws would 
be very much smaller and weaker and his hide less 
tough. Indeed, I have known of but one dog 
which, single-handed, encountered and slew a wolf; 
this was the large vicious mongrel whose feats are 
recorded in my Hunting Trips of a Ranchman. 
General Marcy of the United States Army 



204 The Wilderness Hunter 

informed me that he once chased a huge wolf which 
had gotten away with a small trap on its foot. It 
was, I believe, in Wisconsin, and he had twenty or 
thirty hounds with him, but they were entirely 
untrained to wolf -hunting, and proved unable to 
stop the crippled beast. Few of them would at- 
tack it at all, and those that did went at it singly 
and with a certain hesitation, and so each in turn 
was disabled by a single terrible snap, and left 
bleeding on the snow. General Wade Hampton 
tells me that in the course of his fifty years' hunt- 
ing with horse and hound in Mississippi, he has on 
several occasions tried his pack of foxhounds 
(southern deerhounds) after a wolf. He found 
that it was with the greatest difficulty, however, 
that he could persuade them to so much as follow 
the trail. Usually, as soon as they came across it, 
they would growl, bristle up, and then retreat 
with their tails between their legs. But one of his 
dogs ever really tried to master a wolf by itself, 
and this one paid for its temerity with its life ; for 
while running a wolf in a canebrake the beast 
turned and tore it to pieces. Finally, General 
Hampton succeeded in getting a number of his 
hounds so they would at any rate follow the trail 
in full cry, and thus drive the wolf out of the 
thicket, and give a chance to the hunter to get a 
shot. In this way he killed two or three. 

The true way to kill wolves, however, is to 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 205 

hunt them with greyhounds on the great plains. 
Nothing more exciting than this sport can possibly 
be imagined. It is not always necessary that the 
greyhounds should be of absolutely pure blood. 
Prize-winning dogs of high pedigree often prove 
useless for the purposes. If by careful choice, how- 
ever, a ranchman can get together a pack com- 
posed both of the smooth-haired greyhound and the 
rough-haired Scotch deerhound, he can have ex- 
cellent sport. The greyhounds sometimes do best 
if they have a slight cross of bulldog in their veins ; 
but this is not necessary. If once a greyhound 
can be fairly entered to the sport and acquires con- 
fidence, then its wonderful agility, its sinewy 
strength and speed, and the terrible snap with 
which its jaws come together, render it a most 
formidable assailant. Nothing can possibly exceed 
the gallantry with which good greyhounds, when 
their blood is up, fling themselves on a wolf or any 
other foe. There does not exist, and there never 
has existed on the wide earth, a more perfect type 
of dauntless courage than such a hound. Not 
Gushing when he steered his little launch through 
the black night against the great ram Albemarle, 
not Custer dashing into the valley of the Rosebud 
to die with all his men, not Farragut himself lashed 
in the rigging of the Hartford as she forged past the 
forts to encounter her iron-clad foe, can stand as 
a more perfect type of dauntless valor. 



2o6 The Wilderness Hunter 

Once I had the good fortune to witness a very 
exciting hunt of this character among the foot- 
hills of the northern Rockies. I was staying at 
the house of a friendly cowman, whom I will call 
Judge Yancy Stump. Judge Yancy Stump was a 
Democrat who, as he phrased it, had fought for 
his Democracy; that is, he had been in the Con- 
federate Army. He was at daggers drawn with 
his nearest neighbor, a cross-grained mountain 
farmer, who may be known as old man Prindle. 
Old man Prindle had been in the Union Army, and 
his Republicanism was of the blackest and most 
uncompromising type. There was one point, how- 
ever, on which the two came together. They were 
exceedingly fond of hunting with hounds. The 
Judge had three or four track-hounds, and four of 
what he called swift-hounds, the latter including 
one pure-bred greyhound bitch of wonderful speed 
and temper, a dun-colored yelping animal which 
was a cross between a greyhound and a foxhound, 
and two others that were crosses between a grey- 
hound and a wire-haired Scotch deer-hound. Old 
man Prindle 's contribution to the pack consisted 
of two immense brindled mongrels of great strength 
and ferocious temper. They were unlike any dogs 
I have ever seen in this country. Their mother 
herself was a cross between a bull mastiff and a 
Newfoundland, while the father was described as 
being a big dog that belonged to a " Dutch Count." 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 207 

The *' Dutch Count " was an outcast German noble, 
who had drifted to the West, and, after failing in 
the mines and failing in the cattle country, had 
died in a squalid log shanty while striving to eke 
out an existence as a hunter among the foothills. 
His dog, I presume, from the description given me, 
must have been a boar-hound or Ulm dog. 

As I was very anxious to see a wolf -hunt, the 
Judge volunteered to get one up, and asked old 
man Prindle to assist, for the sake of his two big 
fighting dogs ; though the very names of the latter. 
General Grant and Old Abe, were gall and worm- 
wood to the unreconstructed soul of the Judge. 
Still they were the only dogs anywhere around 
capable of tackling a savage timber wolf, and 
without their aid the Judge's own high-spirited 
animals ran a serious risk of injury, for they were 
altogether too game to let any beast escape with- 
out a struggle. 

Luck favored us. Two wolves had killed a calf 
and dragged it into a long patch of dense brush 
where there was a little spring, the whole furnish- 
ing admirable cover for any wild beast. Early in 
the morning we started on horseback for this bit of 
cover, which was some three miles off. The party 
consisted of the Judge, old man Prindle, a cowboy, 
myself, and the dogs. The Judge and I carried 
our rifles and the cowboy his revolver, but old 
man Prindle had nothing but a heavy whip, for he 



2o8 The Wilderness Hunter 

swore, with many oaths, that no one should inter- 
fere with his big dogs, for by themselves they 
would surely ''make the wolf feel sicker than a 
stuck hog." Our shaggy ponies racked along at a 
five-mile gait over the dewy prairie grass. The 
two big dogs trotted behind their master, grim and 
ferocious. The track-hounds were tied in couples, 
and the beautiful greyhounds loped lightly and 
gracefully alongside the horses. The country was 
fine. A mile to our right a small plains river 
wound in long curves between banks fringed with 
cottonwoods. Two or three miles to our left the 
foothills rose sheer and bare, with clumps of black 
pine and cedar in their gorges. We rode over 
gently rolling prairie, with here and there patches 
of brush at the bottoms of the slopes around the 
dry watercourses. 

At last we reached a somewhat deeper valley, 
in which the wolves were harbored. Wolves lie 
close in the daytime and will not leave cover if 
they can help it ; and as they had both food and 
water within we knew it was most unlikely that 
this couple would be gone. The valley was a 
couple of hundred yards broad and three or four 
times as long, filled with a growth of ash and 
dwarf elm and cedar, thorny underbrush choking 
the spaces between. Posting the cowboy, to 
whom he gave his rifle, with two greyhounds on 
one side of the upper end, and old man Prindle 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 209 

with two others on the opposite side, while I was 
left at the lower end to guard against the possibil- 
ity of the wolves breaking back, the Judge himself 
rode into the thicket near me and loosened the 
track-hounds to let them find the wolves' trail. 
The big dogs also were uncoupled and allowed to 
go in with the hounds. Their power of scent was 
very poor, but they were sure to be guided aright 
by the baying of the hounds, and their presence 
would give confidence to the latter and make 
them ready to rout the wolves out of the thicket, 
which they would probably have shrunk from 
doing alone. There was a moment's pause of ex- 
pectation after the Judge entered the thicket with 
his hounds. We sat motionless on our horses, 
eagerly looking through the keen fresh morning 
air. Then a clamorous baying from the thicket 
in which both the horseman and dogs had disap- 
peared showed that the hounds had struck the 
trail of their quarry and were running on a hot 
scent. For a couple of minutes we could not 
be quite certain which way the game was going 
to break. The hounds ran zigzag through the 
brush, as we could tell by their baying, and once 
some yelping and a great row showed that they 
had come rather closer than they had expected 
upon at least one of the wolves. 

In another minute, however, the latter found it 
too hot for them and bolted from the thicket. My 

VOL. II. — 14. 



2IO The Wilderness Hunter 

first notice of this was seeing the cowboy, who was 
standing by the side of his horse, suddenly throw 
up his rifle and fire, while the greyhounds, who 
had been springing high in the air, half -maddened 
by the clamor in the thicket below, for a moment 
dashed off the wrong way, confused by the report 
of the gun. I rode for all I was worth to where 
the cowboy stood, and instantly caught a glimpse 
of two wolves, grizzled-gray and brown, which, 
having been turned by his shot, had started straight 
over the hill across the plain toward the moun- 
tains three miles away. As soon as I saw them I 
saw also that the rearmost of the couple had been 
hit somewhere in the body and was lagging be- 
hind, the blood running from its flanks, while the 
two greyhounds were racing after it; and at the 
same moment the track-hounds and the big dogs 
burst out of the thicket, yelling savagely as they 
struck the bloody trail. The wolf was hard hit, 
and staggered as he ran. He did not have a hun- 
dred yards' start of the dogs, and in less than a 
minute one of the greyhounds ranged up and 
passed him with a savage snap that brought him 
to; and before he could recover the whole pack 
rushed at him. Weakened as he was he could 
make no effective fight against so many foes, and 
indeed had a chance for but one or two rapid snaps 
before he was thrown down and completely cov- 
ered by the bodies of his enemies. Yet with one 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 211 

of these snaps he did damage, as a shrill yell told, 
and in a second an over-rash track-hound came 
out of the struggle with a deep gash across his 
shoulders. The worrying, growling, and snarling 
were terrific, but in a minute the heaving mass 
grew motionless and the dogs drew off, save one or 
two that still continued to worry the dead wolf as 
it lay stark and stiff with glazed eyes and rumpled 
fur. 

No sooner were we satisfied that it was dead 
than the Judge, with cheers and oaths, and crack- 
ings of his whip, urged the dogs after the other 
wolf. The two greyhounds that had been with 
old man Prindle had fortunately not been able to 
see the wolves when they first broke from the 
cover, and never saw the wounded wolf at all, 
starting off at full speed after the un wounded one 
the instant he topped the crest of the hill. He had 
taken advantage of a slight hollow and turned, and 
now the chase was crossing us half a mile away. 
With whip and spur we flew towards them, our 
two greyhounds stretching out in front, and 
leaving us as if we were standing still, the track- 
hounds and big dogs running after them just 
ahead of the horses. Fortunately, the wolf 
plunged for a moment into a little brushy hollow 
and again doubled back, and this gave us a chance 
to see the end of the chase from nearby. The two 
greyhounds which had first taken up the pursuit 



212 The Wilderness Hunter 

were then but a short distance behind. Nearer 
they crept until they were within ten yards, and 
then with a tremendous race the Httle bitch ran 
past him and inflicted a vicious bite in the big 
beast's ham. He whirled around like a top and 
his jaws clashed like those of a sprung bear-trap, 
but quick though he was she was quicker and just 
cleared his savage rush. In another moment he 
resumed his flight at full speed, a speed which 
only that of the greyhounds exceeded ; but almost 
immediately the second greyhound ranged along- 
side, and though he was not able to bite, because 
the wolf kept running with its head turned around 
threatening him, yet by his feints he delayed the 
beast's flight so that in a moment or two the re- 
maining couple of swift hounds arrived on the 
scene. For a moment the wolf and all four dogs 
galloped along in a bunch ; then one of the grey- 
hounds, watching his chance, pinned the beast 
cleverly by the hock and threw him completely 
over. The others jumped on it in an instant ; but 
rising by main strength the wolf shook himself 
free, catching one dog by the ear and tearing it 
half off. Then he sat down on his haunches and 
the greyhounds ranged themselves around him 
some twenty yards off, forming a ring which for- 
bade his retreat, though they themselves did not 
dare touch him. However the end was at hand. 
In another moment Old Abe and General Grant 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 213 

came running up at headlong speed and smashed 
into the wolf like a couple of battering-rams. He 
rose on his hind legs like a wrestler as they came at 
him, the greyhounds also rising and bouncing up 
and down like rubber balls. I could just see the 
wolf and the first big dog locked together, as the 
second one made good his throat-hold. In an- 
other moment over all three tumbled, while the 
greyhounds and one or two of the track-hounds 
jumped in to take part in the killing. The big 
dogs more than occupied the wolf's attention and 
took all the punishing, while in a trice one of the 
greyhounds, having seized him by the hind leg, 
stretched him out, and the others were biting his 
undefended belly. The snarling and yelling of 
the worry made a noise so fiendish that it was 
fairly bloodcurdling; then it gradually died down, 
and the second wolf lay limp on the plain, killed 
by the dogs unassisted. This wolf was rather 
heavier and decidedly taller than either of the 
big dogs, with more sinewy feet and longer 
fangs. 

I have several times seen wolves run down and 
stopped by greyhounds after a breakneck gallop 
and a wildly exciting finish, but this was the only 
occasion on which I ever saw the dogs kill a big, 
full-grown he- wolf unaided. Nevertheless various 
friends of mine own packs that have performed 
the feat again and again. One pack, formerly 



214 The Wilderness Hunter 

kept at Fort Benton, until wolves in that neigh- 
borhood became scarce, had nearly seventy-five 
to its credit, most of them killed without any 
assistance from the hunter; killed, moreover, by 
the greyhounds alone, there being no other dogs 
with the pack. These greyhounds were trained to 
the throat-hold, and did their own killing in fine 
style; usually six or eight were slipped together. 
General Miles informs me that he once had great 
fun in the Indian Territory hunting wolves with a 
pack of greyhounds. They had with the pack a 
large stub-tailed mongrel, of doubtful ancestry 
but most undoubted fighting capacity. When the 
wolf was started the greyhounds were sure to over- 
take it in a mile or two ; they would then bring it 
to a halt and stand around it in a ring until the 
fighting dog came up. The latter promptly tum- 
bled on the wolf, grabbing him anywhere, and 
often getting a terrific wound himself at the same 
time. As soon as he had seized the wolf and was 
rolling over with him in the grapple, the other 
dogs joined in the fray and dispatched the quarry 
without much danger to themselves. 

During the last decade many ranchmen in Colo- 
rado, Wyoming, and Montana have developed 
packs of greyhounds able to kill a wolf unassisted. 
Greyhounds trained for this purpose always seize 
by the throat ; and the light dogs used for coursing 
jack-rabbits are not of much service; smooth or 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 215 

rough-haired greyhounds and deerhounds stand- 
ing over thirty inches at the shoulder and weigh- 
ing over ninety pounds being the only ones that, 
together with speed, courage, and endurance, pos- 
sess the requisite power. 

One of the most famous packs in the West was 
that of the Sun River Hound Club, in Montana, 
started by the stockmen of Sun River to get rid 
of the curse of wolves which infested the neigh- 
borhood and worked very serious damage to the 
herds and flocks. The pack was composed of both 
greyhounds and deerhounds, the best being from 
the kennels of Colonel Williams and of Mr. Van 
Hummel, of Denver; they were handled by an 
old plainsman and veteran wolf-hunter named 
Porter. In the season of '86 the astonishing num- 
be of 146 wolves were killed with these dogs. Or- 
dinarily, as soon as the dogs seized a wolf, and 
threw or held it. Porter rushed in and stabbed it 
with his hunting-knife; one day, when out with 
six hounds, he thus killed no less than twelve out 
of the fifteen wolves started, though one of the 
greyhounds was killed, and all the others were cut 
and exhausted. But often the wolves were killed 
without his aid. The first time the two biggest 
hounds — deerhounds or wire-haired greyhounds — 
were tried, when they had been at the ranch only 
three days, they performed such a feat. A large 
wolf had killed and partially eaten a sheep in a 



2i6 The Wilderness Hunter 

corral close to the ranch-house, and Porter started 
on the trail, and followed him at a jog-trot nearly 
ten miles before the hounds sighted him. Run- 
ning but a few rods, he turned viciously to bay, 
and the two great greyhounds struck him like 
stones hurled from a catapult, throwing him as 
they fastened on his throat ; they held him down 
and strangled him before he could rise, two other 
hounds getting up just in time to help at the end 
of the worry. 

Ordinarily, however, no two greyhounds or deer- 
hounds are a match for a gray wolf, but I have 
known of several instances in Colorado, Wyoming, 
and Montana, in which three strong veterans have 
killed one. The feat can only be performed by 
big dogs of the highest courage, who all act to- 
gether, rush in at top speed, and seize by the 
throat ; for the strength of the quarry is such that 
otherwise he will shake off the dogs, and then 
speedily kill them by rabid snaps with his terribly 
armed jaws. Where possible, half a dozen dogs 
should be slipped at once, to minimize the risk of 
injury to the pack; unless this is done, and unless 
the hunter helps the dogs in the worry, accidents 
will be frequent, and an occasional wolf will be 
found able to beat off, maiming or killing, a lesser 
number of assailants. Some hunters prefer the 
smooth greyhound, because of its great speed, and 
others the wire-coated animal, the rough deer- 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 217 

hound, because of its superior strength; both, if of 
the right kind, are dauntless fighters. 

Colonel Williams's greyhounds have performed 
many noble feats in wolf -hunting. He spent the 
winter of 1875 in the Black Hills, which at that 
time did not contain a single settler, and fairly 
swarmed with game. Wolves were especially nu- 
merous and very bold and fierce, so that the dogs 
of the party were continually in jeopardy of their 
lives. On the other hand, they took an ample 
vengeance, for many wolves were caught by the 
pack. Whenever possible, the horsemen kept close 
enough to take an immediate hand in the fight, if 
the quarry was a full-grown wolf, and thus save 
the dogs from the terrible punishment they were 
otherwise certain to receive. The dogs invariably 
throttled, rushing straight at the throat, but the 
wounds they themselves received were generally 
in the flank or belly; in several instances these 
wounds resulted fatally. Once or twice a wolf was 
caught, and held by two greyhounds until the 
horsemen came up ; but it took at least five dogs 
to overcome and slay unaided a big timber wolf. 
Several times the feat was performed by a party of 
five, consisting of two greyhounds, one rough- 
coated deer-hound, and two cross-bloods; and 
once by a litter of seven young greyhounds, not 
yet come to their full strength. 

Once or twice the so-called Russian wolf-hounds 



2i8 The Wilderness Hunter 

or silky-coated greyhounds, the "borzois," have 
been imported and tried in wolf -hunting on the 
western plains ; but hitherto they have not shown 
themselves equal, at either running or fighting, 
to the big American-bred greyhounds of the type 
produced by Colonel Williams and certain others 
of our best western breeders. Indeed, I have 
never known any foreign greyhounds, whether 
Scotch, English, or from continental Europe, to 
perform such feats of courage, endurance, and 
strength, in chasing and killing dangerous game, 
as the homebred greyhounds of Colonel Williams. 



CHAPTER IX 

IN COWBOY LAND 

OUT on the frontier, and generally among 
those who spend their lives in, or on the 
borders of, the wilderness, life is reduced 
to its elemental conditions. The passions and 
emotions of these grim hunters of the mountains 
and wild rough riders of the plains, are simpler and 
stronger than those of people dwelling in more 
complicated states of society. As soon as the 
communities become settled and begin to grow 
with any rapidity, the American instinct for law 
asserts itself; but in the earlier stages each indi- 
vidual is obliged to be a law to himself and to 
guard his rights with a strong hand. Of course, 
the transition periods are full of incongruities. 
Men have not yet adjusted their relations to moral- 
ity and law with any niceness. They hold strongly 
by certain rude virtues, and on the other hand 
they quite fail to recognize even as shortcomings 
not a few traits that obtain scant mercy in older 
communities. Many of the desperadoes, the man- 
killers, and road-agents have good sides to their 
characters. Often they are people who, in certain 

219 



220 The Wilderness Hunter 

stages of civilization, do, or have done, good work, 
but who, when these stages have passed, find 
themselves surrounded by conditions which ac- 
centuate their worst qualities, and make their 
best qualities useless. The average desperado, 
for instance, has, after all, much the same stand- 
ard of morals that the Norman nobles had in the 
days of the battle of Hastings, and, ethically and 
morally, he is decidedly in advance of the vikings, 
who were the ancestors of these same nobles — and 
to whom, by the way, he himself could doubtless 
trace a portion of his blood. If the transition 
from the wild lawlessness of life in the wilderness 
or on the border to a higher civilization were 
stretched out over a term of centuries, he and his 
descendants would doubtless accommodate them- 
selves by degrees to the changing circumstances. 
But unfortunately in the far West the transition 
takes place with marvellous abruptness, and at an 
altogether unheard-of speed, and many a man's 
nature is unable to change with sufficient rapidity 
to allow him to harmonize with his environment. 
In consequence, unless he leaves for still wilder 
lands, he ends by getting hung instead of founding 
a family which would revere his name as that of a 
very capable, although not in all respects a con- 
ventionally moral, ancestor. 

Most of the men with whom I was intimately 
thrown during my life on the frontier and in the 



In Cowboy Land 221 

wilderness were good fellows — hardworking, brave, 
resolute, and truthful. At times, of course, they 
were forced of necessity to do deeds which would 
seem startling to dwellers in cities and in old 
settled places; and though they waged a very 
stern and relentless warfare upon evil-doers whose 
misdeeds had immediate and tangible bad results, 
they showed a wide toleration of all save the most 
extreme classes of wrong, and were not given to 
inquiring too curiously into a strong man's past, 
or to criticising him over-harshly for a failure to 
discriminate in finer ethical questions. Moreover, 
not a few of the men with whom I came in contact 
— with some of whom my relations were very 
close and friendly — had at different times led 
rather tough careers. This fact was accepted by 
them and by their companions as a fact, and 
nothing more. There were certain offences, such 
as rape, the robbery of a friend, or murder under 
circumstances of cowardice and treachery, which 
were never forgiven; but the fact that when the 
country was wild a young fellow had gone on the 
road — that is, become a highwayman, or had been 
chief of a gang of desperadoes, horse-thieves, and 
cattle-killers, was scarcely held to weigh against 
him, being treated as a regrettable, but certainly 
not shameful, trait of youth. He was regarded 
by his neighbors with the same kindly tolerance 
which respectable mediaeval Scotch borderers 



222 The Wilderness Hunter 

doubtless extended to their wilder young men 
who would persist in raiding English cattle even 
in time of peace. 

Of course, if these men were asked outright as to 
their stories they would have refused to tell them, 
or else would have lied about them; but when 
they had grown to regard a man as a friend and 
companion they would often recount various in- 
cidents of their past lives with perfect frankness, 
and as they combined in a very curious degree 
both a decided sense of humor, and a failure to 
appreciate that there was anything especially re- 
markable in what they related, their tales were 
always entertaining. 

Early one spring, now nearly ten years ago, I 
was out hunting some lost horses. They had 
strayed from the range three months before, and 
we had in a roundabout way heard that they were 
ranging near some broken country, where a man 
named Brophy had a ranch, nearly fifty miles 
from my own. When I started thither the 
weather was warm, but the second day out it grew 
colder and a heavy snow-storm came on. Fortu- 
nately I was able to reach the ranch all right, 
finding there one of the sons of a Little Beaver 
ranchman, and a young cow-puncher belonging to 
a Texas outfit, whom I knew very well. After 
putting my horse into the corral and throwing him 
down some hay I strode into the low hut, made 



In Cowboy Land 223 

partly of turf and partly of cottonwood logs, and 
speedily warmed myself before the fire. We had 
a good warm supper, of bread, potatoes, fried 
venison, and tea. My two companions grew very 
sociable and began to talk freely over their pipes. 
There were two bunks, one above the other. I 
climbed into the upper, leaving my friends, who 
occupied the lower, sitting together on a bench 
recounting different incidents in the careers of 
themselves and their cronies during the winter 
that had just passed. Soon one of them asked the 
other what had become of a certain horse, a noted 
cutting pony, which I had myself noticed the pre- 
ceding fall. The question aroused the other to 
the memory of a wrong which still rankled, and he 
began (I alter one or two of the proper names) : 

" Why, that was the pony that got stole. I had 
been workin' him on rough ground when I was 
out with the Three Bar outfit and he went tender 
forward, so I turned him loose by the Lazy B 
ranch, and when I come back to git him there 
was n't anybody at the ranch and I could n't find 
him. The sheep-man who lives about two miles 
west, under Red Clay butte, told me he seen a 
fellow in a wolfskin coat, ridin' a pinto bronco, 
with white eyes, leadin' that pony of mine just 
two days before ; and I hunted round till I hit his 
trail, and then I followed to where I 'd reckoned 
he was headin* for — the Short Pine Hills. When 



224 The Wilderness Hunter 

I got there a rancher told me he had seen the man 
pass on towards Cedartown, and sure enough 
when I struck Cedartown I found he Hved there in 
a 'dobe house, just outside the town. There was a 
boom on the town and it looked pretty slick. 
There was two hotels and I went into the first, 
and I says, 'Where 's the justice of the peace?' 
says I to the bartender. 

*'* There ain't no justice of the peace,' says he; 
'the justice of the peace got shot.' 

'"Well, where 's the constable?' says I. 

" ' Why, it was him that shot the justice of the 
peace ! ' says he ; ' he 's skipped the country with a 
bunch of horses.' 

"'Well, ain't there no officer of the law left in 
this town?' says I. 

" ' Why, of course,' says he, * there 's a probate 
judge ; he is over tendin' bar at the Last Chance 
Hotel.' 

" So I went over to the Last Chance Hotel, and 
I walked in there. 'Mornin',' says I. 

"'Mornin',' says he. 

" ' You 're the probate judge?' says I. 

" ' That 's what I am,' says he. ' What do you 
want?' says he. 

" ' I want justice,' says I. 

"'What kind of justice do you want?' says he. 
'What 'sit for?' 

*" It's for stealin' a horse,' says L 



In Cowboy Land 225 

•*'Then by God you '11 git it,' says he. 'Who 
stole the horse?' says he. 

"*It is a man that lives in a 'dobe house, just 
outside the town there,' says I. 

'' ' Well, where do you come from yourself? ' said 
he. 

'"From Medory,' said I. 

"With that he lost interest and settled kind o' 
back, and says he, 'There won't no Cedartown 
jury hang a Cedartown man for stealin' a Medory 
man's horse,' said he. 

'"Well, what am I to do about my horse?' 
says I. 

"'Do?' says he; 'well, you know where the 
man lives, don't you?' says he; 'then sit up out- 
side his house to-night and shoot him when 
he comes in,' says he, 'and skip out with the 
horse.' 

'"All right,' says I, ' that is what I '11 do,' and I 
walked off. 

" So I went off to his house, and I laid down be- 
hind some sage-brushes to wait for him. He was 
not at home, but I could see his wife movin' about 
inside now and then, and I waited and waited, and 
it growed darker, and I begun to say to myself, 
'Now here you are lyin' out to shoot this man 
when he comes home ; and it 's gettin' dark, and 
you don't know him, and if you do shoot the next 
man that comes into that house, like as not it 

VOL. II. — 15. 



226 The Wilderness Hunter 

won't be the fellow you're after at all, but some 
perfectly innocent man a-comin' there after the 
other man's wife!' 

*' So I up and saddled the bronc' and lit out for 
home," concluded the narrator with the air of one 
justly proud of his own self -abnegating virtue. 

The "town" where the judge above-mentioned 
dwelt was one of those squalid, pretentiously 
named little clusters of make-shift dwellings which 
on the edge of the wild country spring up with the 
rapid growth of mushrooms, and are often no 
longer lived. In their earlier stages these towns 
are frequently built entirely of canvas, and are 
subject to grotesque calamities. When the terri- 
tory purchased from the Sioux, in the Dakotas, a 
couple of years ago, was thrown open to settle- 
ment, there was a furious inrush of men on horse- 
back and in wagons, and various ambitious cities 
sprang up overnight. The new settlers were all 
under the influence of that curious craze which 
causes every true westerner to put unlimited faith 
in the unknown and untried; many had left all 
they had in a far better farming country, because 
they were true to their immemorial belief that, 
wherever they were, their luck would be better if 
they went somewhere else. They were always on 
the move, and headed for the vague beyond. As 
miners see visions of all the famous mines of his- 
tory in each new camp, so these would-be city 



In Cowboy Land 227 

founders saw future St. Pauls and Omahas in 
every forlorn group of tents pitched by some 
muddy stream in a desert of gumbo and sage- 
brush; and they named both the towns and the 
canvas buildings in accordance with their bright 
hopes for the morrow, rather than with reference 
to the mean facts of the day. One of these towns, 
which when twenty-four hours old boasted of six 
saloons, a ** court-house," and an "opera house," 
was overwhelmed by early disaster. The third 
day of its life a whirlwind came along and took off 
the opera house and half the saloons ; and the fol- 
lowing evening lawless men nearly finished the 
work of the elements. The riders of a huge trail- 
outfit from Texas, to their glad surprise, discovered 
the town, and abandoned themselves to a night of 
roaring and lethal carousal. Next morning the 
city authorities were lamenting with oaths of bit- 
ter rage, that ''them hell-and-twenty Flying A 
cow-punchers had cut the court-house up into 
pants." It was true. The cowboys were in need 
of shaps, and with an admirable mixture of ad- 
venturousness, frugality, and ready adaptability 
to circumstances, had made substitutes therefor in 
the shape of canvas overalls, cut from the roof and 
walls of the shaky temple of justice. 

One of my valued friends in the mountains, and 
one of the best hunters with whom I ever travelled^ 
was a man who had a peculiarly light-hearted 



228 The Wilderness Hunter 

way of looking at conventional social obligations. 
Though in some ways a true backwoods Dona- 
tello, he was a man of much shrewdness and of 
great courage and resolution. Moreover, he pos- 
sessed what only a few men do possess, the capac- 
ity to tell the truth. He saw facts as they were, 
and could tell them as they were, and he never 
told an untruth unless for very weighty reasons. 
He was pre-eminently a philosopher, of a happy, 
sceptical turn of mind. He had no prejudices. 
He never looked down, as so many hard characters 
do, upon a person possessing a different code of 
ethics. His attitude was one of broad, genial tol- 
erance. He saw nothing out of the way in the 
fact that he had himself been a road-agent, a pro- 
fessional gambler, and a desperado at different 
stages of his career. On the other hand, he did 
not in the least hold it against any one that he had 
always acted within the law. At the time that I 
knew him he had become a man of some sub- 
stance, and naturally a staunch upholder of the 
existing order of things. But while he never 
boasted of his past deeds, he never apologized for 
them, and evidently would have been quite as in- 
capable of understanding that they needed an 
apology as he would have been incapable of being 
guilty of mere vulgar boastfulness. He did not 
often allude to his past career at all. When he 
did, he recited its incidents perfectly naturally and 



In Cowboy Land 229 

simply, as events, without any reference to or re- 
gard for their ethical significance. It was this 
quality which made him at times a specially 
pleasant companion, and always an agreeable 
narrator. The point of his story, or what seemed 
to him the point, was rarely that which struck me. 
It was the incidental sidelights the story' threw 
upon his own nature and the somewhat lurid sur- 
roundings amid which he had moved. 

On one occasion when we were out together we 
killed a bear, and after skinning it, took a bath in a 
lake. I noticed he had a scar on the side of his 
foot and asked him how he got it, to which he re- 
sponded, with indifference : 

"Oh, that? Why, a man shootin' at me to 
make me dance, that was all." 

I expressed some curiosity in the matter, and he 
went on : 

''Well, the way of it was this: It was when I 
was keeping a saloon in New Mexico, and there was 
a man there by the name of Fowler, and there was 
a reward on him of three thousand dollars " 

" Put on him by the State?" 

" No, put on by his wife," said my friend ; " and 
there was this " 

" Hold on," I interrupted; " put on by his wife, 
did you say?" 

"Yes, by his wife. Him and her had been 
keepin' a faro bank, you see, and they quarrelled 



230 The Wilderness Hunter 

about it, so she just put a reward on him, and 
so " 

" Excuse me," I said, "but do you mean to say 
that this reward was put on publicly?" to which 
my friend answered, with an air of gentlemanly 
boredom at being interrupted to gratify my thirst 
for irrelevant detail : 

''Oh, no, not publicly. She just mentioned it 
to six or eight intimate personal friends." 

"Go on," I responded, somewhat overcome by 
this instance of the primitive simplicity with 
which New Mexican matrimonial disputes were 
managed, and he continued : 

" Well, two men come ridin' in to see me to bor- 
row my guns. My guns was Colt's self-cockers. 
It was a new thing then, and they was the only 
ones in town. These come to me, and ' Simpson,' 
says they, ' we want to borrow your guns ; we are 
goin' to kill Fowler.' 

" ' Hold on for a moment,' said I, ' I am willin' 
to lend you them guns, but I ain't goin' to know 
what you 'r' goin' to do with them, no sir; but of 
course you can have the guns. ' ' ' Here my friend's 
face lightened pleasantly, and he continued: 

"Well, you may easily believe I felt surprised 
next day when Fowler come ridin' in, and, says 
he, ' Simpson, here 's your guns ! ' He had shot 
them two men ! ' Well, Fowler, ' says I, ' if I had 
known them men was after you, I'd never have 



In Cowboy Land 231 

let them have them guns, nohow,' says I. That 
was n't true, for I did know it, but there was no 
cause to tell him that." I murmured my ap- 
proval of such prudence, and Simpson continued, 
his eyes gradually brightening with the light of 
agreeable reminiscence : 

"Well, they up and the}^ took Fowler before 
the justice of the peace. The justice of the peace 
was a Turk." 

"Now, Simpson, what do you mean by that?" 
I interrupted : 

"Well, he come from Turkey," said Simpson, 
and I again sank back, wondering briefly what 
particular variety of Mediterranean outcast had 
drifted down to New Mexico to be made a justice 
of the peace. Simpson laughed and continued : 

"That Fowler was a funny fellow. The Turk, 
he committed Fowler, and Fowler, he riz up and 
knocked him down and tromped all over him and 
made him let him go!" 

"That was an appeal to a higher law," I ob- 
served. Simpson assented cheerily, and con- 
tinued : 

"Well, that Turk, he got nervous for fear 
Fowler he was goin' to kill him, and so he comes 
to me and offers me twenty-five dollars a day to 
protect him from Fowler; and I went to Fowler, 
and 'Fowler,' says I, 'that Turk's offered me 
twenty-five dollars a day to protect him from you. 



232 The Wilderness Hunter 

Now, I ain't goin' to get shot for no twenty-five 
dollars a day, and if you are goin' to kill the Turk, 
just say so and go and do it ; but if you ain't goin' 
to kill the Turk, there 's no reason why I should n't 
earn that twenty-five dollars a day ! ' and Fowler, 
says he, * I ain't goin' to touch the Turk; you just 
go right ahead and protect him.'" 

So Simpson ** protected" the Turk from the im- 
aginary danger of Fowler for about a week, at 
twenty-five dollars a day. Then one evening he 
happened to go out and met Fowler, "and," said 
he, ** the moment I saw him I knowed he felt mean, 
for he begun to shoot at my feet," which certainly 
did seem to offer presumptive evidence of mean- 
ness. Simpson continued: 

" I did n't have no gun, so I just had to stand 
there and take it until something distracted his 
attention, and I went off home to get my gun and 
kill him, but I wanted to do it perfectly lawful ; so 
I went up to the mayor (he was play in' poker with 
one of the judges), and says I to him, * Mr. Mayor,' 
says I, *I am goin' to shoot Fowler.' And the 
mayor he riz out of his chair and he took me by 
the hand, and says he, ' Mr. Simpson, if you do I 
will stand by you' ; and the judge, he says, ' I '11 
go on your bond.'" 

Fortified by this cordial approval of the execu- 
tive and judicial branches of the government, Mr. 
Simpson started on his quest. Meanwhile, how- 



In Cowboy Land 233 

ever, Fowler had cut up another prominent citizen, 
and they already had him in jail. The friends of 
law and order feeling some little distrust as to the 
permanency of their own zeal for righteousness, 
thought it best to settle the matter before there 
was time for cooling, and accordingly, headed by 
Simpson, the mayor, the judge, the Turk, and 
other prominent citizens of the town, they broke 
into the jail and hanged Fowler. The point in the 
hanging which especially tickled my friend's fancy, 
as he lingered over the reminiscence, was one that 
was rather too ghastly to appeal to my own sense 
of humor. In the Turk's mind there still rankled 
the memory of Fowler's very unprofessional con- 
duct while figuring before him as a criminal. Said 
Simpson, with a merry twinkle of the eye: *'Do 
you know that Turk, he was a right funny fellow, 
too, after all. Just as the boys were going to string 
up Fowler, says he, ' Boys, stop ; one moment, 
gentlemen, — Mr. Fowler, good-by,' and he blew a 
kiss to him!" 

In the cow country, and elsewhere on the wild 
borderland between savagery and civilization, men 
go quite as often by nicknames as by those to 
which they are lawfully entitled. Half the cow- 
boys and hunters of my acquaintance are known 
by names entirely unconnected with those they 
inherited or received when they were chris- 
tened. Occasionally, some would-be desperado or 



234 The Wilderness Hunter 

make-believe mighty hunter tries to adopt what he 
deems a title suitable to his prowess ; but such an 
effort is never attempted in really wild places, 
where it would be greeted with huge derision ; for 
all of these names that are genuine are bestowed 
by outsiders, with small regard to the wishes of the 
person named. Ordinarily, the name refers to 
some easily recognizable accident of origin, occupa- 
tion, or aspect ; as witness the innumerable Dutch- 
eys, Frencheys, Kentucks, Texas Jacks, Bronco 
Bills, Bear Joes, Buckskins, Red Jims, and the like. 
Sometimes it is apparently meaningless; one of 
my cow-puncher friends is always called " Sliver" 
or ** Splinter" — why, I have no idea. At other 
times some particular incident may give rise to 
the title : a clean-looking cowboy formerly in my 
employ was always known as ''Muddy Bill," be- 
cause he had once been bucked off his horse into a 
mud hole. 

The grewsome genesis of one such name is given 
in the following letter which I have just received 
from an old hunting-friend in the Rockies, who 
took a kindly interest in a frontier cabin which the 
Boone and Crockett Club was putting up at the 
Chicago World's Fair : 

"Feb 1 6th 1893; Der Sir: I see in the news- 
papers that your club the Daniel Boon and Davey 
Crockit you Intend to erect a f runtier Cabin at the 



In Cowboy Land 235 

world's Far at Chicago to represent the erley 
Pianears of our country I would like to see you 
maik a success I have all my life been a fruntiers- 
man and feel interested in your undertaking and 
I hoap you wile get a good assortment of relicks I 
want to maik one suggestion to you that is in re- 
gard to geting a good man and a genuine Maun- 
tanner to take charg of your haus at Chicago I 
want to recommend a man for you to get it is 
Liver-eating Johnson that is the naim he is gener- 
ally called he is an olde mauntneer and large and 
fine looking and one of the Best Story Tellers in 
the country and Very Polight genteel to every one 
he meets I wil tel you how he got that naim Liver- 
eating in a hard Fight with the Black Feet Indians 
thay Faught all day Johnson and a Few Whites 
Faught a large Body of Indians all day after the 
fight Johnson cam in contact with a wounded In- 
dian and Johnson was aut of ammunition and 
thay faught it out with thar Knives and Johnson 
got away with the Indian and in the fight cut the 
livver out of the Indian and said to the Boys did 
thay want any Liver to eat that is the way he got 
the naim of Liver-eating Johnson 

"Yours truly" etc., etc. 

Frontiersmen are often as original in their the- 
ories of life as in their names ; and the originality 
may take the form of wild savagery, of mere 



236 The Wilderness Hunter 

uncouthness, or of an odd combination of genuine 
humor with simple acceptance of facts as they are. 
On one occasion I expressed some surprise at 
learning that a certain Mrs. P. had suddenly mar- 
ried, though her husband was alive and in jail in a 
neighboring town ; and received for answer : " Well, 
you see, old man Pete he skipped the coimtry, and 
left his widow behind him, and so Bob Evans he 
up and married her!" — which was evidently felt 
to be a proceeding requiring no explanation what- 
ever. 

In the cow country there is nothing more re- 
freshing than the light-hearted belief entertained 
by the average man to the effect that any animal 
which by main force has been saddled and ridden, 
or harnessed and driven a couple of times, is a 
''broke horse." My present foreman is firmly 
wedded to this idea, as well as to its complement, 
the belief that any animal with hoofs, before any 
vehicle with wheels, can be driven across any 
country. One summer on reaching the ranch I 
was entertained with the usual accounts of the 
adventures and misadventures which had befallen 
my own men and my neighbors since I had been 
out last. In the course of the conversation my 
foreman remarked: "We had a great time out 
here about six weeks ago. There was a professor 
from Ann Arbor came out with his wife to see the 
Bad Lands, and they asked if we could rig them 



In Cowboy Land 237 

up a team, and we said we guessed we could, and 
Foley's boy and I did; but it ran away with him 
and broke his leg ! He was here for a month. I 
guess he did n't mind it, though." Of this I was 
less certain, forlorn little Medora being a '* busted" 
cow-town, concerning which I once heard another 
of my men remark, in reply to an inq-uisitive com- 
mercial traveller: '* How many people lives here? 
Eleven — counting the chickens — when they 're all 
in town!" 

My foreman continued : "By George, there was 
something that professor said afterwards that 
made me feel hot. I sent word up to him by 
Foley's boy that seein' as how it had come out we 
would n't charge him nothin' for the rig ; and that 
professor he answered that he was glad we were 
showing him some sign of consideration, for he 'd 
begun to believe he 'd fallen into a den of sharks, 
and that we gave him a runaway team a purpose. 
That made me hot, calling that a runaway team. 
Why, there was one of them horses never could 
have run away before ; it had n't never been druv 
but twice! and the other horse maybe had run 
away a few times, but there was lots of times he 
had nH run away. I esteemed that team full as 
liable not to run away as it was to run away," con- 
cluded my foreman, evidently deeming this as 
good a warranty of gentleness as the most exact- 
ing could require. 



238 The Wilderness Hunter 

The definition of good behavior on the frontier 
is even more elastic for a saddle-horse than for a 
team. Last spring one of the Three-Seven riders, 
a magnificent horseman, was killed on the round- 
up near Belfield, his horse bucking and falling on 
him. ''It was accounted a plumb gentle horse, 
too," said my informant, ''only it sometimes 
sulked and acted a little mean when it was cinched 
up behind." The unfortunate rider did not know 
of this failing of the " plumb gentle horse," and as 
soon as he was in the saddle it threw itself over 
sideways with a great bound, and he fell on his 
head, and never spoke again. 

Such accidents are too common in the wild 
country to attract very much attention ; the men 
accept them with grim quiet, as inevitable in such 
lives as theirs — lives that are harsh and narrow in 
their toil and their pleasure alike, and that are 
ever-bounded by an iron horizon of hazard and 
hardship. During the last year and a half three 
other men from the ranches in my immediate 
neighborhood have met their deaths in the course 
of their work. One, a trail boss of the O X, was 
drowned while swimming his herd across a swollen 
river. Another, one of the fancy ropers of the W 
Bar, was killed while roping cattle in a corral ; his 
saddle turned, the rope twisted round him, he was 
pulled off, and was trampled to death by his own 
horse. 



In Cowboy Land 239 

The fourth man, a cow-puncher named Hamil- 
ton, lost his life during the last week of October, 
1 89 1, in the first heavy snow-storm of the season. 
Yet he was a skilled plainsman, on ground he knew 
well, and, just before straying himself, he success- 
fully instructed two men who did not know the 
country how to get to camp. They were all three 
with . the round-up, and were making a circle 
through the Bad Lands ; the wagons had camped 
on the eastern edge of these Bad Lands, where 
they merged into the prairie, at the head of an old 
disused road, which led about due east from the 
Little Missouri. It was a gray, lowering day, and 
as darkness came on Hamilton's horse played out, 
and he told his two companions not to wait, as it 
had begun to snow, but to keep on towards the 
north, skirting some particularly rough buttes, 
and as soon as they struck the road to turn to the 
right and follow it out to the prairie, where they 
would find camp; he particularly warned them 
to keep a sharp lookout, so as not to pass over 
the dim trail unawares in the dusk and the storm. 
They followed his advice, and reached camp 
safely; and after they had left him nobody ever 
again saw him alive. Evidently he himself, plod- 
ding northwards, passed over the road without 
seeing it in the gathering gloom; probably he 
struck it at some point where the ground was bad, 
and the dim trail in consequence disappeared 



240 The Wilderness Hunter 

entirely, as is the way with these prairie roads — 
making them landmarks to be used with caution. 
He must then have walked on and on, over rugged 
hills and across deep ravines, until his horse came 
to a standstill ; he took off its saddle and picketed 
it to a dwarfed ash. Its frozen carcass was found 
with the saddle near by, two months later. He 
now evidently recognized some landmark, and 
realized that he had passed the road, and was far 
to the north of the round-up wagons ; but he was 
a resolute, self-confident man, and he determined 
to strike out for a line camp, which he knew lay 
about due east of him, two or three miles out on 
the prairie, on one of the head branches of Knife 
River. Night must have fallen by this time, and 
he missed the camp, probably passing it within less 
than a mile; but he did pass it, and with it all 
hopes of life, and walked wearily on to his doom, 
through the thick darkness and the driving snow. 
At last his strength failed, and he lay down in the 
tall grass of a little hollow. Five months later, in 
the early spring, the riders from the line camp 
found his body, resting face downwards, with the 
forehead on the folded arms. 

Accidents of less degree are common. Men 
break their collar-bones, arms, or legs by falling 
when riding at speed over dangerous ground, when 
cutting cattle or trying to control a stampeded 
herd, or by being thrown or rolled on by bucking 



In Cowboy Land 241 

or rearing horses ; or their horses, and on rare oc- 
casions even they themselves, are gored by fight- 
ing steers. Death by storm or in flood, death in 
striving to master a wild and vicious horse, or in 
handling maddened cattle, and too often death 
in brutal conflict with one of his own fellows — 
any one of these is the not imnatural end of 
the life of the dweller on the plains or in the 
mountains. 

But a few years ago other risks had to be run 
from savage beasts, and from the Indians. Since 
I have been ranching on the Little Missouri, two 
men have been killed by bears in the neighbor- 
hood of my range; and in the early years of my 
residence there, several men living or travelling in 
the country were slain by small war-parties of 
young braves. All the old-time trappers and 
hunters could tell stirring tales of their encounters 
with Indians. 

My friend, Tazewell Woody, was among the 
chief actors in one of the most noteworthy adven- 
tures of this kind. He was a very quiet man, and 
it was exceedingly difficult to get him to talk over 
any of his past experiences ; but one day, when he 
was in high good-humor with me for having made 
three consecutive straight shots at elk, he became 
quite communicative, and I was able to get him to 
tell me one story which I had long wished to hear 
from his lips, having already heard of it through 

VOL. II, — 16, 



242 The Wilderness Hunter 

one of the other survivors of the incident. When 
he found that I already knew a good deal old 
Woody told me the rest. 

It was in the spring of 1875, and Woody and 
two friends were trapping on the Yellowstone. 
The Sioux were very bad at the time, and had 
killed many prospectors, hunters, cowboys, and 
settlers ; the whites retaliated whenever they got 
a chance, but, as always in Indian warfare, the 
sly, lurking, bloodthirsty savages inflicted much 
more loss than they suffered. 

The three men, having a dozen horses with them, 
were camped by the riverside in a triangular 
patch of brush, shaped a good deal like a common 
flat-iron. On reaching camp they started to put 
out their traps; and when he came back in the 
evening Woody informed his companions that he 
had seen a great deal of Indian sign, and that he 
believed there were Sioux in the neighborhood. 
His companions both laughed at him, assuring him 
that they were not Sioux at all, but friendly Crows, 
and that they would be in camp next morning; 
"and sure enough," said Woody, meditatively, 
"they were in camp next morning" By dawn 
one of the men went down the river to look at 
some of the traps, while Woody started out to 
where the horses were, the third man remaining in 
camp to get breakfast. Suddenly two shots were 
heard down the river, and in another moment a 



In Cowboy Land 243 

motmted Indian swept towards the horses. Woody 
fired, but missed him, and he drove off five while 
Woody, running forward, succeeded in herding 
the other seven into camp. Hardly had this been 
accomplished before the man who had gone down 
the river appeared, out of breath with his desper- 
ate run, having been surprised by several Indians, 
and just succeeded in making his escape by dodg- 
ing from bush to bush, threatening his pursuers 
with his rifle. 

These proved to be but the forerunners of a 
great war party, for when the sun rose the hills 
around seemed black with Sioux. Had they 
chosen to dash right in on the camp, running the 
risk of losing several of their men in the charge, 
they could of course have eaten up the three 
hunters in a minute; but such a charge is rarely 
practised by Indians, who, although they are ad- 
mirable in defensive warfare, and even in certain 
kinds of offensive movements, and although from 
their skill in hiding they usually inflict much more 
loss than they suffer when matched against white 
troops, are yet very reluctant to make any move- 
ment where the advantage gained must be off- 
set by considerable loss of life. The three men 
thought they were surely doomed, but being 
veteran frontiersmen and long inured to every 
kind of hardship and danger, they set to work 
with cool resolution to make as effective a defence 



244 The Wilderness Hunter 

as possible, to beat off their antagonists if they 
might, and if this proved impracticable, to sell 
their lives as dearly as they could. Having 
tethered the horses in a slight hollow, the only 
one which offered any protection, each man crept 
out to a point of the triangular brush patch and 
lay down to await events. 

In a very short while the Indians began closing 
in on them, taking every advantage of cover, and 
then, both from their side of the river and from 
the opposite bank, opened a perfect fusillade, 
wasting their cartridges with a recklessness which 
Indians are apt to show when excited. The himt- 
ers could hear the hoarse commands of the chiefs, 
the war-whoops, and the taunts in broken English 
which some of the warriors hurled at them. Very 
soon all of their horses were killed, and the brush 
was fairly riddled by the incessant volleys; but 
the three men themselves, lying flat on the groimd 
and well concealed, were not harmed. The more 
daring young warriors then began to creep toward 
the hunters, going stealthily from one piece of 
cover to the next; and now the whites in turn 
opened fire. They did not shoot recklessly, as did 
their foes, but coolly and quietly, endeavoring to 
make each shot tell. Said Woody: " I only fired 
seven times all day; I reckoned on getting meat 
every time I pulled trigger." They had an im- 
mense advantage over their enemies, in that 



In Cowboy Land 245 

whereas they lay still and entirely concealed, the 
Indians of course had to move from cover to cover 
in order to approach, and so had at times to expose 
themselves. When the whites fired at all they 
fired at a man, whether moving or motionless, 
whom they could clearly see, while the Indians 
could only shoot at the smoke, which imperfectly 
marked the position of their unseen foes. In con- 
sequence, the assailants speedily found that it was 
a task of hopeless danger to try in such a manner 
to close in on three plains veterans, men of iron 
nerve and skilled in the use of the rifle. Yet some 
of the more daring crept up very close to the patch 
of brush, and one actually got inside it, and was 
killed among the bedding that lay by the smoulder- 
ing camp-fire. The wounded and such of the 
dead as did not lie in too exposed positions were 
promptly taken away by their comrades; but 
seven bodies fell into the hands of the three hunt- 
ers. I asked Woody how many he himself had 
killed. He said he could only be sure of two that 
he got ; one he shot in the head as he peeped over 
a bush, and the other he shot through the smoke 
as he attempted to rush in. ''My, how that In- 
dian did yell!" said Woody, retrospectively; ''he 
was no great of a Stoic." After two or three hours 
of this deadly skirmishing, which resulted in 
nothing more serious to the whites than in two of 
them being slightly wounded, the Sioux became 



246 The Wilderness Hunter 

disheartened by the loss they were suffering and 
withdrew, confining themselves thereafter to a 
long range and harmless fusillade. When it was 
dark the three men crept out to the river bed, and 
taking advantage of the pitchy night broke through 
the circle of their foes ; they managed to reach the 
settlements without further molestation, having 
lost everything except their rifles. 

For many years one of the most important of 
the wilderness dwellers was the West Point officer, 
and no man has played a greater part than he in 
the wild warfare which opened the regions beyond 
the Mississippi to white settlement. Since 1879, 
there has been but little regular Indian fighting in 
the North, though there have been one or two very 
tedious and wearisome campaigns waged against 
the Apaches in the South. Even in the North, 
however, there have been occasional uprisings 
which had to be quelled by the regular troops. 

After my elk-hunt in September, 1891, I came 
out through the Yellowstone Park, as I have else- 
where related, riding in company with a surveyor 
of the Burlington and Quincy railroad, who was 
just coming in from his summer's work. It was 
the first of October. There had been a heavy 
snow-storm and the snow was still falling. Riding 
a stout pony each, and leading another packed 
with our bedding, etc., we broke our way from the 
Upper to the Middle Geyser Basin. Here we found 



In Cowboy Land 247 

a troop of the ist Cavalry camped, under the com- 
mand of old friends of mine, Captain Frank Ed- 
wards and Lieutenant (now Captain) John Pitcher. 
They gave us hay for our horses and insisted upon 
our stopping to lunch, with the ready hospitality 
always shown by army officers. After lunch we 
began exchanging stories. My travelling com- 
panion, the surveyor, had that spring performed 
a feat of note, going through one of the canyons of 
the Big Horn for the first time. He went with an 
old mining inspector, the two of them dragging a 
Cottonwood sledge over the ice. The walk of the 
canyon are so sheer and the water so rough that it 
can be descended only when the stream is frozen. 
However, after six days' labor and hardship the 
descent was accomplished; and the surveyor, in 
concluding, described his experience in going 
through the Crow Reservation. 

This turned the conversation upon Indians, and 
it appeared that both of our hosts had been actors 
in Indian scrapes which had attracted my atten- 
tion at the time they occurred, as they took place 
among tribes that I knew and in a country which 
I had sometime visited, either when hunting or 
when purchasing horses for the ranch. The first, 
which occurred to Captain Edwards, happened 
late in 1886, at the time when the Crow Medicine 
Chief, Sword-Bearer, announced himself as the 
Messiah of the Indian race, during one of the usual 



248 The Wilderness Hunter 

epidemics of ghost dancing. Sword-Bearer de- 
rived his name from always wearing a medicine 
sword — ^that is, a sabre painted red. He claimed 
to possess magic power, and, thanks to the per- 
formance of many dextrous feats of juggling, and 
the lucky outcome of certain prophecies, he deeply 
stirred the Indians, arousing the young warriors 
in particular to the highest pitch of excitement. 
They became sullen, began to paint, and armed 
themselves ; and the agent and the settlers nearby 
grew so apprehensive that the troops were ordered 
to go to the reservation. A body of cavalry, in- 
cluding Captain Edwards's troop, was accordingly 
marched thither, and found the Crow warriors, 
mounted on their war ponies and dressed in their 
striking battle-garb, waiting on a hill. 

The position of troops at the beginning of such 
an affair is always peculiarly difficult. The settlers 
roundabout are sure to clamor bitterly against 
them, no matter what they do, on the ground that 
they are not thorough enough and are showing 
favor to the savages, while on the other hand, 
even if they fight purely in self-defence, a large 
number of worthy but weak-minded sentimen- 
talists in the East are sure to shriek about their 
having brutally attacked the Indians. The war 
authorities always insist that they must not fire 
the first shot under any circumstances, and such 
were the orders at this time. The Crows on the 



In Cowboy Land 249 

hilltop showed a sullen and threatening front, and 
the troops advanced slowly towards them and then 
halted for a parley. Meanwhile a mass of black 
thunder-clouds gathering on the horizon threatened 
one of those cloudbursts of extreme severity and 
suddenness so characteristic of the plains country. 
While still trying to make arrangements for a par- 
ley, a horseman started out of the Crow ranks and 
galloped headlong down towards the troops. It 
was the medicine chief. Sword- Bearer. He was 
painted and in his battle-dress, wearing his war- 
bonnet of floating, trailing eagle feathers, while 
the plumes of the same bird were braided in the 
mane and tail of his fiery little horse. On he came 
at a gallop almost up to the troops and then began 
to circle around them, calling and singing and 
throwing his crimson sword into the air, catching 
it by the hilt as it fell. Twice he rode completely 
around the soldiers, who stood in uncertainty, not 
knowing what to make of his performance, and 
expressly forbidden to shoot at him. Then paying 
no further heed to them he rode back towards the 
Crows. It appears that he had told them that he 
would ride twice around the hostile force, and by 
his incantations would call down rain from heaven 
which would make the hearts of the white men 
like water, so that they should go back to their 
homes. Sure enough, while the arrangements for 
the parley were still going forward, down came 



250 The Wilderness Hunter 

the cloudburst, drenching the command and mak- 
ing the ground on the hills in front nearly impass- 
able; and before it dried a courier arrived with 
orders to the troops to go back to camp. 

This fulfilment of Sword- Bearer's prophecy, of 
course, raised his reputation to the zenith, and the 
young men of the tribe prepared for war, while the 
older chiefs, who more fully realized the power of 
the whites, still hung back. When the troops 
next appeared they came upon the entire Crow 
force, the women and children with their tepees 
being off to one side beyond a little stream, while 
almost all the warriors of the tribe were gathered 
in front. Sword-Bearer started to repeat his 
former ride, to the intense irritation of the soldiers. 
Luckily, however, this time some of his young 
men could not be restrained. They too began to 
ride near the troops, and one of them was unable 
to refrain from firing on Captain Edwards's troop, 
which was in the van. This gave the soldiers 
their chance. They instantly responded with a 
volley, and Captain Edwards's troop charged. The 
fight lasted but a minute or two, for Sword- Bearer 
was struck by a bullet and fell, and as he had 
boasted himself invulnerable, and promised that 
his warriors should be invulnerable also if they 
would follow him, the hearts of the latter became 
as water, and they broke in every direction. One 
of the amusing, though irritating, incidents of the 



In Cowboy Land 251 

affair was to see the plumed and painted warriors 
race headlong for the camp, plunge into the 
stream, wash off their war paint, and remove their 
feathers ; in another moment they would be stol- 
idly sitting on the ground, with their blankets 
over their shoulders, rising to greet the pursuing 
cavalry with unmoved composure and calm assur- 
ances that they had always been friendly and had 
much disapproved the conduct of the young bucks 
who had just been scattered on the field outside. 
It was much to the credit of the discipline of the 
army that no bloodshed followed the fight proper. 
The loss to the whites was small. 

The other incident, related by Lieutenant 
Pitcher, took place in 1890, near Tongue River, in 
northern Wyoming. The command with which he 
was serving was camped near the Cheyenne Res- 
servation. One day two young Cheyenne bucks 
met one of the government herders, and promptly 
killed him — in a sudden fit, half of ungovernable 
blood lust, half of mere ferocious lightheartedness. 
They then dragged his body into the brush and 
left it. The disappearance of the herder of course 
attracted attention, and a search was organized by 
the cavalry. At first , the Indians stoutly denied all 
knowledge of the missing man; but when it be- 
came evident that the search party would shortly 
find him, two or three of the chiefs joined them, 
and piloted them to where the body lay, and 



252 The Wilderness Hunter 

acknowledged that he had been murdered by two 
of their band, though at first they refused to give 
their names. The commander of the post de- 
manded that the murderers be given up. The 
chiefs said that they were very sorry, that this 
could not be done, but that they were willing to 
pay over any reasonable number of ponies to 
make amends for the death. This offer was, of 
course, promptly refused, and the commander noti- 
fied them that if they did not surrender the mur- 
derers by a certain time he would hold the whole 
tribe responsible and would promptly move out 
and attack them. Upon this the chiefs, after 
holding full counsel with the tribe, told the com- 
mander that they had no power to surrender the 
murderers, but that the latter had said that 
sooner than see their tribe involved in a hopeless 
struggle they would of their own accord come in 
and meet the troops anywhere the latter chose to 
appoint, and die fighting. To this the com- 
mander responded: ''All right; let them come 
into the agency in half an hour." The chiefs 
acquiesced, and withdrew. 

Immediately the Indians sent mounted mes- 
sengers at speed from camp to camp, summoning 
all their people to witness the act of fierce self- 
doom; and soon the entire tribe of Cheyennes, 
many of them having their faces blackened in 
token of mourning, moved down and took up a 



In Cowboy Land 253 

position on the hillside close to the agency. At 
the appointed hour both young men appeared in 
their handsome war dress, galloped to the top of 
the hill near the encampment, and deliberately 
opened fire on the troops. The latter merely 
fired a few shots to keep the young desperadoes 
off, while Lieutenant Pitcher and a score of 
cavalrymen left camp to make a circle and drive 
them in; they did not wish to hurt them, but 
to capture them and give them over to the In- 
dians, so that the latter might be forced them- 
selves to inflict the punishment. However, they 
were unable to accomplish their purpose; one of 
the young braves went straight at them, firing his 
rifle and wounding the horse of one of the cavalry- 
men, so that, simply in self-defence, the latter 
had to fire a volley, which laid low the assailant ; 
the other, his horse having been shot, was killed 
in the brush, fighting to the last. All the while, 
from the moment the two doomed braves ap- 
peared until they fell, the Cheyennes on the hill- 
side had been steadily singing the death chant. 
When the young men had both died, and had 
thus averted the fate which their misdeeds would 
else have brought upon the tribe, the warriors 
took their bodies and bore them away for burial 
honors, the soldiers looking on in silence. Where 
the slain men were buried the whites never knew ; 
but all that night they listened to the dismal 



2 54 The Wilderness Hunter 

wailing of the dirges with which the tribesmen 
celebrated their gloomy funeral rites. 

Frontiersmen are not, as a rule, apt to be very 
superstitious. They lead lives too hard and prac- 
tical, and they have too little imagination in things 
spiritual and supernatural. I have heard but few 
ghost stories while living on the frontier, and these 
few were of a perfectly commonplace and conven- 
tional type. 

But I once listened to a goblin story which 
rather impressed me. It was told by a grizzled, 
weather-beaten old mountain hunter, named 
Bauman, who was bom and had passed all his 
life on the frontier. He must have believed 
what he said, for he could hardly repress a shud- 
der at certain points of the tale; but he was of 
German ancestry, and in childhood had doubt- 
less been saturated with all kinds of ghost and 
goblin lore, so that many fearsome superstitions 
were latent in his mind; besides, he knew well 
the stories told by the Indian medicine men in 
their winter camps, of the snow- walkers, and the 
spectres, and the formless evil beings that haunt 
the forest depths, and dog and waylay the lonely 
wanderer who after nightfall passes through the 
regions where they lurk; and it may be that 
when overcome by the horror of the fate that be- 
fell his friend, and when oppressed by the awful 
dread of the unknown, he grew to attribute, both 



In Cowboy Land 255 

at the time and still more in remembrance, weird i -f 

and elfin traits to what was merely some abnor- ^ 

mally wicked and cunning wild beast; but 
whether this was so or not, no man can say. 

When the event occurred Bauman was still a 
young man, and was trapping with a partner 
among the mountains dividing the forks of the 
Salmon from the head of Wisdom River. Not 
having had much luck, he and his partner deter- 
mined to go up into a particularly wild and lonely 
pass through which ran a small stream said to con- 
tain many beaver. The pass had an evil reputa- 
tion because the year before a solitary hunter who 
had wandered into it was there slain, seemingly by 
a wild beast, the half -eaten remains being after- 
wards found by some mining prospectors who had 
passed his camp only the night before. 

The memory of this event, however, weighed 
very lightly with the two trappers, who were as 
adventurous and hardy as others of their kind. 
They took their two lean mountain ponies to the 
foot of the pass, where they left them in an open 
beaver meadow, the rocky timber-clad ground 
being from thence onwards impracticable for 
horses. They then struck out on foot through the 
vast, gloomy forest, and in about four hours 
reached a little open glade where they concluded 
to camp, as signs of game were plenty. 

There was still an hour or two of daylight left, 



256 The Wilderness Hunter 

and after building a brush lean-to and throwing 
down and opening their packs, they started up 
stream. The country was very dense and hard to 
travel through, as there was much down timber, 
although here and there the sombre woodland was 
broken by small glades of mountain grass. 

At dusk they again reached camp. The glade 
in which it was pitched was not many yards wide, 
the tall, close-set pines and firs rising round it like 
a wall. On one side was a little stream, beyond 
which rose the steep mountain-slopes, covered 
with the unbroken growth of the evergreen forest. 

They were surprised to find that during their 
short absence something, apparently a bear, had 
visited camp, and had rummaged about among 
their things, scattering the contents of their packs, 
and in sheer wantonness destroying their lean-to. 
The footprints of the beast were quite plain, but 
at first they paid no particular heed to them, busy- 
ing themselves with rebuilding the lean-to, laying 
out their beds and stores, and lighting the fire. 

While Bauman was making ready supper, it 
being already dark, his companion began to ex- 
amine the tracks more closely, and soon took a 
brand from the fire to follow them up, where the 
intruder had walked along a game trail after 
leaving the camp. When the brand flickered out, 
he returned and took another, repeating his in- 
spection of the footprints very closely. Coming 



In Cowboy Land 257 

back to the fire, he stood by it a minute or two, 
peering out into the darkness, and suddenly re- 
marked: "Bauman, that bear has been walking 
on two legs." Bauman laughed at this, but his 
partner insisted that he was right, and upon again 
examining the tracks with a torch, they certainly 
did seem to be made by but two paws, or feet. 
However, it was too dark to make sure. After 
discussing whether the footprints could possibly 
be those of a human being, and coming to the 
conclusion that they could not be, the two men 
rolled up in their blankets, and went to sleep 
under the lean-to. 

At midnight Bauman was awakened by some 
noise, and sat up in his blankets. As he did so 
his nostrils were struck by a strong, wild-beast 
odor, and he caught the loom of a great body in 
the darkness at the mouth of the lean-to. Grasp- 
ing his rifle, he fired at the vague, threatening 
shadow, but must have missed, for immediately 
afterwards he heard the smashing of the under- 
wood as the thing, whatever it was, rushed off into 
the impenetrable blackness of the forest and the 
night. 

After this the two men slept but little, sitting up 
by the rekindled fire, but they heard nothing more. 
In the morning they started out to look at the few 
traps they had set the previous evening and to put 
out new ones. By an unspoken agreement they 

VOL. II. — 17 



258 The Wilderness Hunter 

kept together all day, and returned to camp 
towards evening. 

On nearing it they saw, to their astonishment, 
that the lean-to had been again torn down. The 
visitor of the preceding day had returned, and in 
wanton malice had tossed about their camp kit 
and bedding, and destroyed the shanty. The 
ground was marked up by its tracks, and on leav- 
ing the camp it had gone along the soft earth by 
the brook, where the footprints were as plain as if 
on snow, and, after a careful scrutiny of the trail, 
it certainly did seem as if, whatever the thing was, 
it had walked off on but two legs. 

The men, thoroughly uneasy, gathered a great 
heap of dead logs, and kept up a roaring fire 
throughout the night, one or the other sitting on 
guard most of the time. About midnight the 
thing came down through the forest opposite, 
across the brook, and stayed there on the hillside 
for nearly an hour. They could hear the branches 
crackle as it moved about, and several times it 
uttered a harsh, grating, long-drawn moan, a pe- 
culiarly sinister sound. Yet it did not venture 
near the fire. 

In the morning the two trappers, after discuss- 
ing the strange events of the last thirty-six hours, 
decided that they would shoulder their packs and 
leave the valley that afternoon. They were the 
more ready to do this because in spite of seeing a 



In Cowboy Land 259 

good deal of game sign they had caught very little 
fur. However, it was necessary first to go along 
the line of their traps and gather them, and this 
they started out to do. 

All the morning they kept together, picking up 
trap after trap, each one empty. On first leaving 
camp they had the disagreeable sensation of being 
followed. In the dense spruce thickets they occa- 
sionally heard a branch snap after they had passed ; 
and now and then there were slight rustling noises 
among the small pines to one side of them. 

At noon they were back within a couple of 
miles of camp. In the high, bright sunlight their 
fears seemed absurd to the two armed men, ac- 
customed as they were, through long years of 
lonely wandering in the wilderness, to face every 
kind of danger from man, brute, or element. 
There were still three beaver traps to collect from 
a little pond in a wide ravine near by. Bauman 
volunteered to gather these and bring them in, 
while his companion went ahead to camp and 
made ready the packs. 

On reaching the pond Bauman found three 
beaver in the traps, one of which had been pulled 
loose and carried into a beaver house. He took 
several hours in securing and preparing the beaver, 
and when he started homewards he marked with 
some uneasiness how low the sun was getting. As 
he hurried towards camp, under the tall trees, the 



26o The Wilderness Hunter 

silence and desolation of the forest weighed on him. 
His feet made no sound on the pine-needles, and 
the slanting sun-rays, striking through among the 
straight trunks, made a gray twilight in which 
objects at a distance glimmered indistinctly. 
There was nothing to break the ghostly stillness 
which, when there is no breeze, always broods over 
these sombre primeval forests. 

At last he came to the edge of the little glade 
where the camp lay, and shouted as he approached 
it, but got no answer. The camp-fire had gone 
out, though the thin blue smoke was still curling 
upwards. Near it lay the packs, wrapped and 
arranged. At first Bauman could see nobody; 
nor did he receive an answer to his call. Stepping 
forward he again shouted, and as he did so his eye 
fell on the body of his friend, stretched beside the 
trunk of a great fallen spruce. Rushing towards 
it the horrified trapper found that the body was 
still warm, but that the neck was broken, while 
there were four great fang-marks in the throat. 

The footprints of the unknown beast-creature, 
printed deep in the soft soil, told the whole story. 

The unfortunate man, having finished his pack- 
ing, had sat down on the spruce log with his face to 
the fire, and his back to the dense woods, to wait 
for his companion. While thus waiting, his mon- 
strous assailant, which must have been lurking 
nearby in the woods, waiting for a chance to catch 



In Cowboy Land 261 

one of the adventurers unprepared, came silently 
up from behind, walking with long, noiseless steps, 
and seemingly still on two legs. Evidently un- 
heard, it reached the man, and broke his neck by 
wrenching his head back with its fore paws, while 
it buried its teeth in his throat. It had not eaten 
the body, but apparently had romped and gam- 
bolled round it in uncouth, ferocious glee, occasion- 
ally rolling over and over it; and had then fled 
back into the soundless depths of the woods. 

Bauman, utterly unnerved, and believing that 
the creature with which he had to deal was some- 
thing either half human or half devil, some great 
goblin-beast, abandoned everything but his rifle 
and struck off at speed down the pass, not halting 
until he reached the beaver meadows where the 
hobbled ponies were still grazing. Mounting, he 
rode onwards through the night, until far beyond 
the reach of pursuit. 



CHAPTER X 

HUNTING LORE 

IT has been my good luck to kill every kind of 
game properly belonging to the United States : 
though one beast which I never had a chance 
to slay, the jaguar, from the torrid South, some- 
times comes just across the Rio Grande ; nor have 
I ever hunted the musk-ox and polar bear in the 
boreal wastes where they dwell, surrounded by 
the frozen desolation of the uttermost North. 

I have never sought to make large bags, for a 
hunter should not be a game butcher. It is 
always lawful to kill dangerous or noxious ani- 
mals, like the bear, cougar, and wolf; but other 
game should only be shot when there is need of 
the meat, or for the sake of an unusually fine 
trophy. Killing a reasonable number of bulls, 
bucks, or rams does no harm whatever to the" 
species; to slay half the males of any kind of 
game would not stop the natural increase, and 
they yield the best sport, and are the legitimate 
objects of the chase. Cows, does, and ewes, on 
the contrary, should only be killed (unless barren) 
in case of necessity; during my last five years' 

262 



Hunting Lore 263 

hunting I have killed but five — one by a mischance 
and the other four for the table. 

From its very nature, the life of the hunter is 
in most places evanescent ; and when it has van- 
ished there can be no real substitute in old settled 
countries. Shooting in a private game preserve 
is but a dismal parody ; the manliest and health- 
iest features of the sport are lost with the change 
of conditions. We need, in the interest of the 
community at large, a rigid system of game laws 
rigidly enforced, and it is not only admissible, 
but one may say almost necessary, to establish, 
under the control of the State, great national 
forest reserves, which shall also be breeding- 
grounds and nurseries for wild game; but I 
should much regret to see grow up in this country 
a system of large private game preserves, kept 
for the enjoyment of the very rich. One of the 
chief attractions of the life of the wilderness is its 
rugged and stalwart democracy ; there every man 
stands for what he actually is, and can show him- 
self to be. 

There are, in different parts of our country, 
chances to try so many various kinds of hunting, 
with rifle or with horse and hound, that it is nearly 
impossible for one man to have experience of 
them all. There are many hunts I have long 
hoped to take, but never did and never shall; 
they must be left for men with more time, or for 



264 The Wilderness Hunter 

those whose homes are nearer to the hunting- 
grounds. I have never seen a grisly roped by 
the riders of the plains, nor a black bear killed 
with the knife and hounds in the southern cane- 
brakes ; though at one time I had for many years 
a standing invitation to witness this last feat on a 
plantation in Arkansas. The friend who gave it, 
an old backwoods planter, at one time lost almost 
all his hogs by the numerous bears which infested 
his neighborhood. He took a grimly humorous 
revenge each fall by doing his winter killing among 
the bears instead of among the hogs they had 
slain; for as the cold weather approached he 
regularly proceeded to lay in a stock of bear- 
bacon, scouring the canebrakes in a series of 
systematic hunts, bringing the quarry to bay 
with the help of a big pack of hard-fighting 
mongrels, and then killing it with his long, broad- 
bladed bowie. 

Again, I should like to make a trial at killing 
peccaries with the spear, whether on foot or on 
horseback, and with or without dogs. I should 
like much to repeat the experience of a friend 
who cruised northward through Bering Sea, shoot- 
ing walrus and polar bear ; and that of two other 
friends who travelled with dog-sleds to the Barren 
Grounds, in chase of the caribou and of that 
last survivor of the Ice Age, the strange musk- 
ox. Once in a while it must be good sport to 



Hunting Lore 265 

shoot alligators by torchlight in the everglades of 
Florida or the bayous of Louisiana. 

If the big-game hunter, the lover of the rifle, 
has a taste for kindred field sports with rod and 
shotgun, many are his chances for pleasure, 
though perhaps of a less intense kind. The wild 
turkey really deserves a place beside the deer; 
to kill a wary old gobbler with the small-bore rifle, 
by fair still-hunting, is a triumph for the best 
sportsman. Swans, geese, and sandhill cranes like- 
wise may sometimes be killed with the rifle; but 
more often all three, save perhaps the swan, must 
be shot over decoys. Then there is prairie-chick- 
en shooting on the fertile grain prairies of the mid- 
dle West, from Minnesota to Texas; and killing 
canvas-backs from behind blinds, with the help of 
that fearless swimmer, the Chesapeake Bay dog. 
In Californian mountains and valleys live the 
beautiful plumed quails, and who does not know 
their cousin bob-white, the bird of the farm, with 
his cheery voice and friendly ways ? For pure fun, 
nothing can surpass a night scramble through the 
woods after coon and possum. 

The salmon, whether near Puget Sound or the 
St. Lawrence, is the royal fish; his only rival is 
the giant of the warm Gulf waters, the silver- 
mailed tarpon ; while along the Atlantic coast the 
great striped bass likewise yields fine sport to 
the men of rod and reel. Every hunter of the 



266 The Wilderness Hunter 

mountains and the northern woods knows the 
many kinds of spotted trout ; for the black bass he 
cares less ; and least of all for the sluggish pickerel 
and his big brother of the Great Lakes, the mus- 
callonge. 

Yet the sport yielded by rod and smooth-bore is 
really less closely kin to the strong pleasures so 
beloved by the hunter who trusts in horse and 
rifle than are certain other outdoor pastimes, of 
the rougher and hardier kind. Such a pastime is 
snow-shoeing, whether with webbed rackets, in 
the vast northern forests, or with skees, on the 
bare slopes of the Rockies. Such is mountaineer- 
ing, especially when joined with bold exploration 
of the unknown. Most of our mountains are of 
rounded shape, and though climbing them is often 
hard work, it is rarely difficult or dangerous, save 
in bad weather, or after a snowfall. But there are 
many of which this is not true; the Tetons, for 
instance, and various glacier-bearing peaks in the 
Northwest; while the lofty, snow-clad ranges of 
British Columbia and Alaska offer one of the finest 
fields in the world for the daring cragsman. Moun- 
taineering is among the manliest of sports ; and it 
is to be hoped that some of our young men with a 
taste for hard work and adventure among the high 
hills will attempt the conquest of these great un- 
trodden mountains of their own continent. As 
with all pioneer work, there would be far more dis- 



Hunting Lore 267 

comfort and danger, far more need to display res- 
olution, hardihood, and wisdom in such an attempt 
than in any expedition on well-known and his- 
toric ground like the Swiss Alps ; but the victory 
would be a hundred-fold better worth winning. 

The dweller or sojourner in the wilderness who 
most keenly loves and appreciates his wild sur- 
roundings, and all their sights and sounds, is the 
man who also loves and appreciates the books 
which tell of them. 

Foremost of all American writers on outdoor life 
is John Burroughs; and I can scarcely suppose 
that any man who cares for existence outside the 
cities would willingly be without anything that he 
has ever written. To the naturalist, to the ob- 
server and lover of nature, he is of course worth 
many times more than any closet systematist ; and 
though he has not been very much in really wild 
regions, his pages so thrill with the sights and 
sounds of outdoor life that nothing by any writer 
who is a mere professional scientist or a mere pro- 
fessional hunter can take their place, or do more 
than supplement them — for scientist and hunter 
alike would do well to remember that before a 
book can take the highest rank in any particular 
line it must also rank high in literature proper. 
Of course, for us Americans, Burroughs has a pe- 
culiar charm that he cannot have for others, no 
matter how much they, too, may like him; for 



268 The Wilderness Hunter 

what he writes of is our own, and he calls to our 
minds memories and associations that are very 
dear. His books make us homesick when we read 
them in foreign lands; for they spring from our 
soil as truly as Snowbound or The Biglow Papers.^ 

As a woodland writer, Thoreau comes second 
only to Burroughs. 

For natural history in the narrower sense there 
are still no better books than Audubon and Bach- 
man's Mammals and Audubon's Birds. There are 
also good works by men like Coues and Bendire ; 
and if Hart Merriam, of the Smithsonian, will only 
do for the mammals of the United States what he 
has already done for those of the Adirondacks, we 
shall have the best book of its kind in existence. 
Nor, among less technical writings, should one 
overlook such essays as those of Maurice Thompson 
and Olive Thorne Miller. 

^ I am under many obligations to the writings of Mr. Bur- 
roughs (though there are one or two of his theories from 
which I should dissent) ; and there is a piece of indebtedness 
in this very volume of which I have only just become aware. 
In my chapter on the prongbuck there is a paragraph which 
will at once suggest to any lover of Burroughs some sentences 
in his essay on Birds and Poets. I did not notice the resem- 
blance until happening to reread the essay after my own 
chapter was written, and at the time I had no idea that I was 
borrowing from anybody, the more so as I was thinking 
purely of western wilderness life and western wilderness game, 
with which I knew Mr. Burroughs had never been familiar. 
I have concluded to leave the paragraph in with this acknow- 
ledgment. 



Hunting Lore 269 

There have been many American hunting- 
books ; but too often they have been very worth- 
less, even when the writers possessed the necessary 
first-hand knowledge, and the rare capacity of see- 
ing the truth. Few of the old-time hunters ever 
tried to write of what they had seen and done; 
and of those who made the effort fewer still suc- 
ceeded. Innate refinement and the literary fac- 
ulty — that is, the faculty of writing a thoroughly 
interesting and readable book, full of valuable in- 
formation — may exist in uneducated people ; but 
if they do not, no amount of experience in the field 
can supply their lack. However, we have had 
some good works on the chase and habits of big 
game, such as Caton's Deer and Antelope of Amer- 
ica, Van Dyke's Still-Hunter, Elliott's Carolina 
Sports, and Dodge's Hunting Grounds of the Great 
West, besides the Century Company's Sport with 
Rod and Gun. Then there is Catlin's book, and 
the journals of the explorers from Lewis and 
Clarke down ; and occasional volumes on outdoor 
life, such as Theodore Winthrop's Canoe and 
Saddle, and Clarence King's Mountaineering in the 
Sierra Nevada. 

Two or three of the great writers of American 
literature, notably Parkman in his Oregon Trail 
and, with less interest, Irving in his Trip on the 
Prairies, have written with power and charm of 
life in the American wilderness; but no one has 



270 The Wilderness Hunter 

arisen to do for the far western plainsmen and 
Rocky Mountain trappers quite what Hermann 
Melville did for the South Sea whaling folk in Omoo 
and Moby Dick. The best description of these 
old-time dwellers among the mountains and on the 
plains is to be found in a couple of good volumes 
by the Englishman Ruxton. However, the back- 
woodsmen proper, both in their forest homes and 
when they first began to venture out on the prairie, 
have been portrayed by a master hand. In a suc- 
cession of wonderfully drawn characters, ranging 
from *' Aaron Thousandacres " to " Ishmael Bush," 
Fenimore Cooper has preserved for always the 
likenesses of these stark pioneer settlers and back- 
woods hunters : uncouth, narrow, hard, suspicious, 
but with all the virile virtues of a young and mas- 
terful race, a race of mighty breeders, mighty 
fighters, mighty commonwealth-builders. As for 
Leatherstocking, he is one of the undying men 
of story: grand, simple, kindly, pure-minded, 
staunchly loyal, the type of the steel-t hewed and 
iron- willed hunter- warrior. 

Turning from the men of fiction to the men of 
real life, it is worth noting how many of the leaders 
among our statesmen and soldiers have sought 
strength and pleasure in the chase, or in kindred 
vigorous pastimes. Of course, field sports, or at 
least the wilder kinds, which entail the exercise of 
daring, and the endurance of toil and hardship, 



Hunting Lore 271 

and which lead men afar into the forests and moun- 
tains, stand above athletic exercises; exactly as 
among the latter, rugged outdoor games, like foot- 
ball and lacrosse, are much superior to mere gym- 
nastics and calisthenics. 

With a few exceptions the men among us who 
have stood foremost in political leadership, like 
their fellows who have led our armies, have been 
of stalwart frame and sound bodily health. When 
they sprang from the frontier folk, as did Lincoln 
and Andrew Jackson, they usually hunted much 
in their youth, if only as an incident in the pro- 
longed warfare waged by themselves and their 
kinsmen against the wild forces of nature. Old 
Israel Putnam's famous wolf -killing feat comes 
strictly under this head. Doubtless he greatly 
enjoyed the excitement of the adventure ; but he 
went into it as a matter of business, not of sport. 
The wolf, the last of its kind in his neighborhood, 
had taken heavy toll of the flocks of himself and 
his friends; when they found the deep cave in 
which it had made its den it readily beat off the 
dogs sent in to assail it ; and so Putnam crept in 
himself, with his torch and his flint-lock musket, 
and shot the beast where it lay. 

When such men lived in long-settled and thickly 
peopled regions, they needs had to accommodate 
themselves to the conditions and put up with 
humbler forms of sport. Webster, like his great 



272 The Wilderness Hunter 

rival for Whig leadership, Henry Clay, cared 
much for horses, dogs, and guns; but though an 
outdoor man he had no chance to develop a love 
for big-game hunting. He was, however, very 
fond of the rod and shotgun. Mr. Cabot Lodge 
recently handed me a letter written to his grand- 
father by Webster, and describing a day's trout 
fishing. It may be worth giving for the sake of 
the writer, and because of the fine heartiness and 
zest in enjoyment which it shows : 

*' Sandwich, June 4, 

"Saturday mor'g 

"6 o'clock 

"Dear Sir: 

** I send you eight or nine trout, which I took 
yesterday, in that chief of all brooks, Mashpee. I 
made a long day of it, and with good success, for 
me. John was with me, full of good advice, but 
did not fish — nor carry a rod. 
I took 26 trouts, all weighing . . 17 lb. 12 oz. 
The largest (you have him) 

weighed at Crokers . . . 2 " 4 ** 
The 5 largest. . . . . 3 " 5 " 

The eight largest . . . . 11 *' 8 " 

" I got these by following your advice; that is, 
by careful & thorough fishing of the difficult places, 
which others do not fish. The brook is fished, 
nearly every day. I entered it, not so high up as 
we sometimes do, between 7 & 8 o'clock, & at 12 



Hunting Lore 273 

was hardly more than half way down to the meet- 
ing-house path. You see I did not hurry. The 
day did not hold out to fish the whole brook prop- 
erly. The largest trout I took at 3 p.m. (you see 
I am precise) below the meeting-house, imder a 
bush on the right bank, two or three rods below the 
large beeches. It is singular, that in the whole day, 
I did not take two t routs out of the same hole. I 
found both ends, or parts of the Brook about 
equally productive. Small fish not plenty, in 
either. So many hooks get everything which is 
not hid away in the manner large trouts take care 
of themselves. I hooked one, which I suppose to 
be larger than any which I took, as he broke my 
line, by fair pulling, after I had pulled him out of 
his den, & was playing him in fair open water. 

" Of what I send you, I pray you keep what you 
wish yourself, send three to Mr. Ticknor, & three 
to Dr. Warren; or two of the larger ones, to each 
will perhaps be enough — & if there be any left, 
there is Mr. Callender & Mr. Blake, & Mr. Davis, 
either of them not ' averse to fish.' Pray let Mr. 
Davis see them — especially the large one. — As he 
promised to come, & fell back, I desire to excite 
his regrets, I hope you will have the large one on 
your own table. 

"The day was fine — not another hook in the 
Brook. John steady as a judge — and everything 
else exactly right. I never, on the whole, had so 

VOL. II.— 18. 



2 74 The Wilderness Hunter 

agreeable a day's fishing tho' the result in pounds 
or numbers, is not great; — nor ever expect such 
another. 

"Please preserve this letter; but rehearse not 
these particulars to the uninitiated. 

**I think the Limerick not the best hook. 
Whether it pricks too soon, or for what other 
reason, I found, or thought I found, the fish more 
likely to let go his hold, from this, than from the 
old-fashioned hook. 

"Yrs. 

"D. Webster. 

"H. Cabot, Esq." 

The greatest of Americans, Washington, was 
very fond of hunting, both with rifle or fowling- 
piece, and especially with horse, horn, and hound. 
Essentially the representative of all that is best in 
our national life, standing high as a general, high as 
a statesman, and highest of all as a man, he could 
never have been what he was had he not taken 
delight in feats of hardihood, of daring, and of 
bodily prowess. He was strongly drawn to those 
field sports which demand in their follower the 
exercise of the manly virtues — courage, endurance, 
physical address. As a young man, clad in the 
distinctive garb of the backwoodsman, the fringed 
and tasselled hunting-shirt, he led the life of a 
frontier surveyor ; and like his fellow adventurers 



Hunting Lore 275 

in wilderness exploration and Indian campaigning, 
he was often forced to trust to the long rifle for 
keeping his party in food. When at his home, at 
Mount Vernon, he hunted from simple delight in 
the sport. 

His manuscript diaries, preserved in the State 
Department at Washington, are full of entries con- 
cerning his feats in the chase ; almost all of them 
naturally falling in the years between the ending 
of the French War and the opening of the Revolu- 
tionary struggle against the British, or else in the 
period separating his sen,dces as Commander-in- 
chief of the Continental armies from his term of 
office as President of the Republic. These entries 
are scattered through others dealing with his 
daily duties in overseeing his farm and mill, his 
attendance at the Virginia House of Burgesses, 
his journeys, the drill of the local militia, and all 
the various interests of his many-sided life. Fond 
though he was of hunting, he was wholly incapable 
of the career of inanity led by those who make 
sport, not a manly pastime, but the one serious 
business of their lives. 

The entries in the diaries are short, and are 
couched in the homely, vigorous English, so famil- 
iar to the readers of Washington's journals and 
private letters. Sometimes they are brief jottings 
in reference to shooting trips ; such as : " Rid out 
with my gun " ; ' ' went pheasant hunting " ; ' ' went 



276 The Wilderness Hunter 

ducking," and ''went a gunning up the Creek." 
But far more often they are: " Rid out with my 
hounds," "went a fox hunting," or "went a hunt- 
ing." In their perfect simpHcity and good faith 
they are strongly characteristic of the man. He 
enters his blank days and failures as conscientiously 
as his red-letter days of success; recording with 
equal care on one day, " Fox hunting with Captain 
Posey — catch a Fox," and another, "Went a hunt- 
ing with Lord Fairfax . . . cat ched nothing." 
Occasionally he began as early as August and 
continued until April; and while he sometimes 
made but eight or ten hunts in a season, at others 
he made as many in a month. Often he hunted 
from Mount Vernon, going out once or twice a 
week, either alone or with a party of his friends 
and neighbors ; and again he would meet with these 
same neighbors at one of their houses, and devote 
several days solely to the chase. The country was 
still very wild, and now and then game was en- 
countered with which the fox-hounds proved un- 
able to cope ; as witness entries like : " found both 
a Bear and a Fox, but got neither"; "went a 
hunting . . . started a Deer & then a Fox 
but got neither" ; and "Went a hunting and after 
trailing a fox a good while the Dogs Raized a Deer 
& ran out of the Neck with it & did not some of 
them at least come home till the next day." If it 
was a small animal, however, it was soon ac- 



Hunting Lore 277 

counted for. " Went a Hunting . . . catched 
a Rakoon but never found a Fox." 

The woods were so dense and continuous that 
it was often impossible for the riders to keep close 
to the hounds throughout the run ; though in one 
or two of the best covers, as the journal records, 
Washington "directed paths to be cut for Fox 
Hunting." This thickness of the timber made it 
difficult to keep the hounds always under control ; 
and there are frequent allusions to their going off 
on their own account, as "Joined some dogs that 
were self hunting." Sometimes the hounds got so 
far away that it was impossible to tell whether 
they had killed or not, the journal remarking 
"catched nothing that we know of," or "found a 
fox at the head of the blind Pocoson which we 
suppose was killed in an hour but could not find it." 

Another result of this density and continuity of 
cover was the frequent recurrence of days of ill 
success. There are many such entries as : " Went 
Fox hunting, but started nothing"; "Went a 
hunting, but catched nothing " ; " found nothing ' ' ; 
"found a Fox and lost it." Often failure followed 
long and hard runs : " Started a Fox, run him four 
hours, took the Hounds off at night"; "found a 
Fox and run it 6 hours and then lost " ; " Went a 
hunting above Darrells . . . found a fox by 
two Dogs but lost it upon joining the Pack." In 
the season of 1772-73 Washington hunted eighteen 



278 The Wilderness Hunter 

days and killed nine foxes ; and though there were 
seasons when he was out much more often, this 
proportion of kills to runs was if anything above 
the average. At the beginning of 1768 he met 
with a series of blank days which might well have 
daunted a less patient and persevering hunter. 
In January and the early part of February he was 
out nine times without getting a thing; but his 
diary does not contain a word of disappointment 
or surprise, each successive piece of ill luck being 
entered without comment, even when one day he 
met some more fortunate friends ''who had just 
catched 2 foxes." At last, on February 12th, he 
himself " catched two foxes " ; the six or eight gen- 
tlemen of the neighborhood who made up the field 
all went home with him to Mount Vernon, to dine 
and pass the night, and in the hunt of the following 
day they repeated the feat of a double score. In 
the next seven days' hunting he killed four times. 
The runs of course varied greatly in length ; on 
one day he ''found a bitch fox at Piney Branch 
and killed it in an hour" ; on another he " killed a 
Dog fox after having him on foot three hours & 
hard running an hour and a qr." ; and on yet an- 
other he "catched a fox with a bobd Tail & cut 
ears after 7 hours chase in which most of the Dogs 
were worsted." Sometimes he caught his fox in 
thirty-five minutes, and again he might run it 
nearly the whole day in vain; the average run 



Hunting Lore 279 

seems to have been from an hour and a half to 
three hours. Sometimes the entry records merely 
the barren fact of the run; at others a few par- 
ticulars are given, with homespun, telling direct- 
ness, as: " Went a hunting with Jacky Custis and 
catched a Bitch Fox after three hours chace — 
founded it on ye. ck. by I. Soals " ; or " went a Fox 
hunting with Lund Washington — took the drag 
of a fox by Isaac Gates & carrd. it tolerably well 
to the old Glebe then touched now and then upon 
a cold scent till we came into Col. Fairfaxes Neck 
where we found about half after three upon the 
Hills just above Accotinck Creek — after running 
till quite Dark took off the Dogs and came home." 
The foxes were doubtless mostly of the gray 
kind, and besides going to holes they treed readily. 
In January, 1770, he was out seven days, killing 
four foxes ; and two of the entries in the journal re- 
late to foxes which treed; one, on the loth, being: 
" I went a hunting in the Neck and visited the 
plantn. there found and killed a bitch fox after 
treeing it 3 t. chasg. it abt. 3 hrs.," and the other 
on the 23d: "Went a hunting after breakfast & 
f oimd a Fox at muddy hole & killed her (it being a 
bitch) after a chase of better than two hours and 
after treeing her twice the last of which times she 
fell dead out of the Tree after being therein sevl. 
minutes apparently." In April, 1769, he hunted 
four days, and on every occasion the fox treed. 



28o The Wilderness Hunter 

April 7th, "Dog fox killed, ran an hour & treed 
twice." April nth, "Went a fox hunting and 
took a fox alive after running him to a Tree — 
brot him home." April 12th, 'Xhased the above 
fox an hour & 45 minutes when he treed again 
after which we lost him." April 13th, ''Killed a 
dog fox after treeing him in 35 minutes." 

Washington continued his fox-hunting until, in 
the spring of 1775, the guns of the minute-men in 
Massachusetts called him to the command of the 
Revolutionary soldiery. When the eight weary 
years of campaigning were over, he said good-by to 
the war-worn veterans whom he had led through 
defeat and disaster to ultimate triumph, and be- 
came once more the Virginian country gentleman. 
Then he took up his fox-hunting with as much zest 
as ever. The entries in his journal are now rather 
longer, and go more into detail than formerly. 
Thus, on December 12th, 1785, he writes that 
after an early breakfast he went on a hunt and 
found a fox at half after ten, "being first plagued 
with the dogs running hogs," followed on his drag 
for some time, then ran him hard for an hour, 
when there came a fault; but when four dogs 
which had been thrown out rejoined the pack 
they put the fox up afresh, and after fifty 
minutes' run killed him in an open field, "every 
Rider & every Dog being present at the Death." 
With his usual alternations between days like this, 



Hunting Lore 281 

and days of ill-luck, he hunted steadily every sea- 
son until his term of private life again drew to a 
close and he was called to the headship of the 
nation he had so largely helped to found. 

In a certain kind of fox-hunting lore there is 
much reference to a Warwickshire squire who, 
when the Parliamentary and Royalist armies were 
forming for the battle at Edgehill, was discovered 
between the hostile lines, unmovedly drawing the 
covers for a fox. Now, this placid sportsman 
should by rights have been slain off-hand by the 
first trooper who reached him, whether Cavalier or 
Roundhead. He had mistaken means for ends, 
he had confounded the healthful play which should 
fit a man for needful work with the work itself ; and 
mistakes of this kind are sometimes criminal. 
Hardy sports of the field offer the best possible 
training for war; but they become contemptible 
when indulged in while the nation is at death-grips 
with her enemies. 

It was not in Washington's strong nature to 
make such an error. Nor yet, on the other hand, 
was he likely to undervalue either the pleasure, or 
the real worth of outdoor sports. The qualities of 
heart, mind, and body, which made him delight in 
the hunting-field, and which he there exercised 
and developed, stood him in good stead in many a 
long campaign and on many a stricken field ; they 
helped to build that stern capacity for leadership 



282 The Wilderness Hunter 

in war which he showed ahke through the bitter 
woe of the winter at Valley Forge, on the night 
when he ferried his men across the half -frozen Del- 
aware to the overthrow of the German mercenaries 
at Trenton, and in the brilliant feat of arms where- 
of the outcome was the decisive victory of York- 
town. 



APPENDIX 

IN these volumes I have avoided repeating 
what was contained in my former books, the 
Hunting Trips of a Ranchman. For many de- 
tails of life and work in the cattle country I must 
refer the reader to these two volumes ; and also for 
more full accounts of the habits and methods of 
hunting such game as deer and antelope. As far 
as I know, the description in my Hunting Trips 
of the habits and the chase of the mountain sheep 
is the only moderately complete account thereof 
that has ever been published. 

There have been many changes, both in my old 
hunting-grounds and my old hunting friends, since 
I first followed the chase in the far western coun- 
try. Where the buffalo and the Indian ranged, 
along the Little Missouri, the branded herds of the 
ranchmen now graze ; the scene of my elk-hunt at 
Two-Ocean Pass is now part of the National Forest 
Reserve; settlers and miners have invaded the 
ground where I killed bear and moose ; and steam- 
ers ply on the lonely waters of Kootenai Lake. Of 
my hunting companions some are alive ; others — 
among them my staunch and valued friend Will 
Dow, and crabbed, surly old Hank Griffin — are 

283 



284 The Wilderness Hunter 

dead; while yet others have drifted away, and I 
know not what has become of them. 

I have made no effort to indicate the best kind 
of camp kit for hunting, for the excellent reason 
that it depends so much upon the kind of trip 
taken, and upon the circumstances of the person 
taking it. The hunting trip may be made with a 
pack-train, or with a wagon, or with a canoe, or on 
foot; and the hunter may have half a dozen at- 
tendants, or he may go absolutely alone. I have 
myself made trips under all of these circumstances. 
At times I have gone with two or three men, sev- 
eral tents, and an elaborate apparatus for cooking, 
cases of canned goods, and the like. On the other 
hand, I have made trips on horseback, with noth- 
ing whatsoever beyond what I had on, save my 
oilskin slicker, a metal cup, and some hardtack, 
tea, and salt in the saddle pockets; and I have 
gone for a week or two's journey on foot, carrying 
on my shoulders my blanket, a frying-pan, some 
salt, a little flour, a small chunk of bacon, and a 
hatchet. So it is with dress. The clothes should 
be stout, of a neutral tint ; the hat should be soft, 
without too large a brim; the shoes heavy, and 
the soles studded with small nails, save when moc- 
casins or rubber-soled shoes are worn ; but within 
these limits there is room for plenty of variation. 
Avoid, however, the so-called deer-stalker's cap, 
which is an abomination ; its peaked brim giving 



Appendix 285 

no protection whatsoever to the eyes when facing 
the sun quartering, a position in which many shots 
must be taken. In very cold regions, fur coats, 
caps, and mittens, and all-wool underclothing are 
necessary. I dislike rubber boots when they can 
possibly be avoided. In hunting in snow in the 
winter I use the so-called German socks and felt 
overshoes where possible. One winter I had an 
ermine cap made. It was very good for peeping 
over the snowy ridge crests when game was on the 
other side ; but, except when the entire landscape 
was snow-covered, it was an unmitigated nuisance. 
In winter, webbed snow-shoes are used in the 
thick woods, and skees in the open country. 

There is an endless variety of opinion about 
rifles, and all that can be said with certainty is 
that any good modern rifle will do. It is the man 
behind the rifle that counts, after the weapon has 
reached a certain stage of perfection. One of my 
friends invariably uses an old Government Spring- 
field, a 45-calibre, with an ounce bullet. Another 
cares for nothing but the 40-90 Sharp's, a weapon 
for which I myself have much partiality. Another 
uses always the old 45-calibre Sharp's, and yet an- 
other the 45-calibre Remington. Two of the best 
bear- and elk-hunters I know prefer the 32- and ^S- 
calibre Marlin's, with long cartridges, weapons 
with which I myself would not undertake to pro- 
duce any good results. Yet others prefer pieces 



286 The Wilderness Hunter 

of very large calibre. The amount of it is that 
each one of these giins possesses some excellence 
which the others lack, but which is in most cases 
atoned for by some corresponding defect. Sim- 
plicity of mechanism is very important, but so is 
rapidity of fire ; and it is hard to get both of them 
developed to the highest degree in the same piece. 
In the same way, flatness of trajectory, penetra- 
tion, range, shock, and accuracy are all qualities 
which must be attained ; but to get one in perfec- 
tion usually means the sacrifice of some of the rest. 
For instance, other things being equal, the smallest 
calibre has the greatest penetration, but gives the 
least shock; while a very flat trajectory, if ac- 
quired by heavy charges of powder, means the 
sacrifice of accuracy. Similarly, solid and hollow 
pointed bullets have, respectively, their merits and 
demerits. There is no use of dogmatizing about 
weapons. Some which prove excellent for par- 
ticular countries and kinds of hunting are useless 
in others. 

There seems to be no doubt, judging from the 
testimony of sportsmen in South Africa and in 
India, that very heavy calibre double-barrelled 
rifles are best for use in the dense jungles and 
against the thick-hided game of those regions ; but 
they are of very little value with us. In 1 88 2 one of 
the buffalo-hunters on the Little Missouri obtained 
from some Englishman a double-barrelled ten- 



Appendix 287 

bore rifle of the kind used against rhinoceros, buf- 
falo, and elephant in the Old World ; but it proved 
very inferior to the 40- and 45 -calibre Sharp's buf- 
falo guns when used under the conditions of 
American buffalo-hunting, the tremendous shock 
given by the bullet not compensating for the gun's 
great relative deficiency in range and accuracy, 
while even the penetration was inferior at ordinary 
distances. It is largely also a matter of individ- 
ual taste. At one time I possessed a very expen- 
sive double-barrelled 500 Express, by one of the 
crack English makers ; but I never liked the gun, 
and could not do as well with it as with my re- 
peater, which cost barely a sixth as much. So 
one day I handed it to a Scotch friend, who was 
manifestly ill at ease with a Winchester exactly 
like my own. He took to the double-barrel as 
naturally as I did to the repeater, and did excel- 
lent work with it. Personally, I have always pre- 
ferred the Winchester. I now use a 45-90, with 
my old buffalo gim, a 40-90 Sharp's, as spare 
rifie. Both, of course, have specially tested bar- 
rels, and are stocked and sighted to suit myself. 



INDEX 



Accidents, to the ranch- 
wagon, i., 54; to cowboys, 
ii-, 237 

Americans in the wilderness, 

i-. 52 

American, the, wilderness, i., 
i; hunting-books, ii., 269 

Ammal,i., 155, 158, 161, 163, 
164; superstition of, i., 171 

Animals, legitimate killing of, 
ii., 262 

Antelope, i., 5, 20, 67, 73; 
enemies of, i., 86; curiosity 
of, i., 87 ; winter haunts of, 
i., 89 ; characteristics of , i., 
112 

Army, the regular, and hunt- 
ing, i., 15 

Bad Lands, view of the, i., ^^ 
Battle Ground, i., 132 
Bauman's goblin story, ii., 

254 

Bear, the black, i., 20; 
charged by a, i. 163 ; shoot- 
ing a, i., 164; where found, 
ii., 31; hunted with dogs, 
ii-, 32, 33} trapping, ii., 38; 
food of, ii., 39; size of, ii., 
41, 43, 44; species of, ii., 
42; old hunters on, ii,, 44; 
cattle-killing by, ii., 52; 
prey on each other, ii., 60 

Bear, the grisly, i., 21, ii., 42; 
size of, ii., 47 ; habits of, ii., 
48; fond of fish, ii., 62; food 
of, ii., 62; haunts of, ii., 



66; rutting season, ii., 68; 
cuIds, ii., 68; hunting with 
dogs, ii., 72; stalking, ii., 
77 ; hunting, ii., 80; charged 
by, ii., 91 ; a dangerous an- 
tagonist, ii., 93; ways of 
fighting, ii., 102 

Bears, modes of hunting, ii., 
69; shooting trapped, ii., 
71; attacks by, ii., 117- 
122; lassoing, ii., 124 

Bear- trapper, danger to, ii., 
72 

Beaver Dick, i., 216 

Big Hole Basin, climate of, i., 

.133 

Bighorn, or mountain sheep, 
i., 20, 58; tracks of the, i., 
122; of the Bad Lands, i., 
122; rutting season of, i., 
123; haunts of, i., 123; re- 
quirements of a hunter of 
the, i., 123; stalking, i., 
126-128; wariness of, i., 
129 

Bison, tracking a band of, ii., 
25; shooting a bull, ii., 29 

Boon, Daniel, i., 6, 7 

Branding cattle, i., 30 

Bucker, a bad, i., 49 

Buffalo, the American, last 
herd of, i., 13, 15, 16; vast 
herds of, ii., i; slaughter 
of, ii., 2; stalking, ii., 13; 
stampede of, ii., 14; charge 
of, ii., 17; mountain, ii., 22 

Buffalo Bill's cowboys, ii.,182 



289 



290 



Index 



Buffalo hunt of Elliott Roose- 
velt, ii., 3 

Buffaloes, Gen. W. H. 
Walker's experience with, 
ii., 19 

Burroughs, John, ii., 267 

Bull-dog flies, i., 135 



Calf- wrestlers, i., 31 
California Joe, ii., 109 
Camp, gossip of a, i., 69; re- 
turning to, i., 178 
Camping out, i., 57 
Camp-kit, a good, i., 212 
"Calling," hunting by, i., 258 
Caribou, the woodland, i., 18; 
signs of the, i., 174; tracks 
of the, i., 175; shooting a, 
i., 177; the author's first 
hunt for, i., 180; the 
habits of, i., 183; hide of, 
i-. 253 
Carson, Kit, i., 11 
Cattle, guarding of, at night, 
i., 69; branding of, i., 30; 
killing by bears, ii., 51, 52; 
the pursuit of wild, ii., 145 
Cheyenne Indians, death of 

two, ii., 252, 253 
Chickaree, the, i., 204 
Chipmunk, the, i., 204 
"Circle riding," i., 72 
Clark, George Rogers, i., 8 
Clay, Col. Cecil, i., 260 
Cock, the chaparral, ii., 144 
Columbian, blacktail, the, i., 

63; haunts of, i., 64 
Cougar, the, i., 20; difficulty 
in hunting, ii. , 128; should 
be hunted with dogs, ii., 
131; habits of, ii., 135, 
137; haunts of, ii., 137; 
seldom attacks man, ii., 
138; cases of attacks on 
man, ii., 140; Trescott on, 
ii., 142 



Cowboys, dress of, i., 68, 69; 
salutation of, i., 69; gen- 
eral character of, ii., 220; 
accidents to, ii., 238 

Cowley, Mr., ii., 163, 164 

Coyote, see Wolf 

Crockett, Davy, i., 9 

Crow, Clark's, i., 204; In- 
dians, ii., 247, 248 

"Crusting," i., 266 

"Cut," the, i., 30 

Deer, the whitetail, i., 19, 44, 
60, 63; the blacktail, or 
mule, i., 19, 34-38, 39. 41; 
tracksof, i., 19; lying close 

i;, 37; 

European red, i., 201 
Desert region, i., 2, 3 
Dow, George, ii., 100 
Dow, Will, i., 198 
Dugout, a night at a, i., 94 



Eagle, the war, i., 83-86 

Edwards, Captain Frank, ii., 
247, 248 

Elk, venison as a diet, i., 207; 
the smell of, i., 225; stalk- 
ing a bull elk, i., 226; hint 
on shooting, i., 227; a 
giant, i., 227 

Elk-hunting the most at- 
tractive of sports, i., 239 

Elk- trails, peculiarity of, i., 
224 

Emigrant train, an, i., 96 

Famine, a meat, i., 40 
Fare, the, at the ranch-house, 

i., 24 
Farmers, the frontier, i., 14 
Ferguson, Robert Munro, i., 

40, 57, 98, 209, 228 
Ferret, the plains, i., 82 
Ferris, Sylvane, i., 42, 57, 58 



Index 



291 



"Filemaker,"jump of.ii., 173 
Fire, a prairie, i,, 98-104 
Fire hunting, i., 45 
Fisher, the, i., 204 
Fool-hen, the, see Grouse, 

spruce 
Forest, sounds in the, i., 172 
Fowl, sage-, i., 132 
Fox-hunting as a sport, ii., 

Frio, a ranch on the, n., 143 
Frontiersmen not supersti- 
tious, ii., 254 



Game found in American 
wilderness, i., 4; a com- 
parison of, i., 200; game 
country, i., 209 

Goat-herder, a Mexican, ii.. 

Goat, the white, i., 20, 131; 
shooting a, i., 141, 146; 
flavor of, i., 147; modes of 
hunting, i., 148; stupidity 
of, i,, 148; appearance of, 
i., 149; habits of, i., 150; 
not decreasing in numbers, 
i., 152; an easy prey, i., 
152; hauntsof, i., 153, 154 
Goblin story, a, ii., 254 
Griffin, Hank, i., 244; ii., 88 
Grouse, spruce, i., 137; ruf- 
fled, i., 138; snow, i., 147 



Hampton, General Wade, a 

bear killer, ii., 34, 204 
Herbert, Mr. H. L., ii., 173 
Hofer, Elwood, i., 211 ; ii., 61 
Hornaday, Mr.,i,, 260; ii., 24 
Horses, driving loose, i., 66 
Hounds, not used by early 
hunters, ii., 158; the grey- 
hound, ii., 160; scratch 
packs of, ii., 161; hunting 
with, ii., 161; Colonel Wil- 



liams's pack of, ii., 165; 
Wadsworth's hounds, ii., 
167; a run with, ii., 168; 
Meadowbrook, ii., 172; 
Russian wolf-, ii., 217 

Houston, General Sam, i., 9, 
10 

Hunter, an old, i., 90-93; re- 
quirements of a wilderness, 
i., 22; the real, i., 210; 
dress, ii., 284 

Hunters', old, opinions on 
bears, ii., 42-44 

Hunting-ground, the finest, 
i., 21; hunting on the 
Little Missouri, i., 21 

Hunting, from the ranch- 
house, i., 36; on foot, i., 
36; with trackhounds, i., 
47; trip, duration of a, i., 
55; the pronghorn, i., 87, 
95 ; trip to the antelope 
winter haunts, i., 90, 94; 
trip, provisions on a,i., 120; 
hardships met with in, i., 
135; modes of, bears, ii., 
69; retrospect, i., 237 

Indians catching eagles, i., 86 

Jackson's, General "Red," 
encounter with a grisly, ii,, 
126 

Javalina, see Peccary 

Jones, Colonel James, i., 260 

Kentucky, the settlement of, 

i-' 7 
King, Clarence, 11., 21, 54 

Kootenai Lake, i., 155 ; camp- 
ing by, i., 156 

Lamoche's, Baptiste, adven- 
ture with a bear, ii., 119 
Landscape, a dreary, i., 67 



292 



Index 



Lark, meadow, i., 76, 77; 

plains, i., 76 
"Latigo Strap," i., 69, 70, 

72 
Lavishness of nature on the 

Pacific slope, i., 5, 6 
Laws, game, needed, ii., 263 
Letter from an old hunter, ii,. 

234 
Lewis'woodpecker,the,i.,205 
Little Missouri, hunting on, 

i.,2i; wapiti on the, i., 197 
Lucivee, the, i., 202; food of 

the, i., 202; easily killed 

with dogs, i., 202 
Lynx, northern, see Lucivee 



Marcy, General, ii., 203 
Maverick bulls, i., 31; lasso- 
ing of, i., 32 
McMaster, Prof. J. Bache, i., 

129 
Meadowbrook hounds, hunt- 
ing with, ii., 172 
Merriam, Dr. Hart, ii., 41 
Merrill, Dr. James C, ii., 97 
Mexican wild hog, see Pec- 
cary 
Miller's fight with a bear, ii., 

109 
Mocking-bird, the, i., 78, 79; 

ii., 144 
Moore, Mr. John, ii., 143 
Moose-bird, the, see Whisky- 
jack 
Moose, the, i., 17; giant of 
deer, i., 240; haunts of, i., 
241,253; fruitless hunting 
of, i., 243; stalking a bull 
moose, i., 244; footprints 
of, i., 249; flesh of, i., 253; 
hide, i., 253; not found in 
herds, i., 255; food of, i., 
255; easily tamed, i., 256; 
bulls during the rut, i., 
256; able to defend itself, 



i-> 257; gait of, i., 260; will 
attack a hunter, i., 261 
Mountain buffalo, ii., 22 
Mountain ptarmigan, see 
Grouse, snow 

Nicknames, ii., 233 
Nightingale, the, i., 78 
Nut-pine, northern, i., 225 

"Old Ephraim," see Bear, 

grisly 
Old Ike, killed by a bear, ii., 

105, 106 
"Old Manitou," i., 120, 124 
OX, the, a steer outfit, i., 25, 

28 



Pack-animals , hunters' , i . , 
211; perversity of, i., 213 

Packing, skill required in, i., 
210; in the rain, i., 218 

Pack-rats, i., 82 

Peccary, i., 21; where found 
in the United States, ii., 
143; unprovoked attacks 
by, ii., 147; a band of, ii., 
153; how hunted, ii., 155; 
at bay, ii., 155; food of, ii., 

156 
Peculiarity of elk- trails, i., 

224 
Perkins's adventure with a 

bear, ii., 112 
Phillips, William H., ii., 61 
Picturesque country, a, i. , 2 1 5 
Pingree killed by a moose, i., 

271 
Pitcher, Lieutenant John, ii., 

247, 251 
Plains country, the, i., 2 
Plains, the, weather of, i., 106 
Porcupine, the, i., 203 
Prindle, Old Man, ii., 206; his 

hounds, ii,, 206 



Index 



293 



Prongbucks in rutting sea- 
son, i., Ill 
Pronghorn, see Antelope 



Rabbits, snow-shoe, i., 224 
Ranch-house, the, shut up, i. , 

60 
Ranch Hfe during the fall 

months, i., 24 
Riding, cross-country, ii., 

177; of cowboys, ii., 183- 

185; of Australians, ii., 183 
Rockhill, Mr., ii., 49 
Rogers, Archibald, iL, 95 
Rogers, E. P., i., 260 
Roosevelt's, Elliott, buffalo 

hunt, ii., 3; his diary, ii., 5 
Roosevelt, West, i., 42 
Roosevelt, John,ii., 3 
Round-up, the, starting for, 

i., 26; at work, i., 28, 51, 

118; loss of sleep at, i., 65 
Rutting season, the, i., 36, 

III 



Sage, Mr. A. J., ii., 184 
Sage-fowl, i., 132 
Settling of the West, i., 14 
Shapes taken by American 

wilderness, i., 1-3 
Sheep, bighorn, see Bighorn 
Shooting, poor, i., 42, 43; 
running game, i., 50; a 
caribou, i., 177; hints on, 
i., 227 
Shoshone Indians, hunting- 
party of, i., 230; their 
method of hunting, i., 230 
Silver thaw, a, i., 183 
Sioux, a fight with, ii., 242 
Slough, stuck in a, i., 133 
Snow-shoes, hunting on, i., 
266; two kinds used, i., 268 
Soldiery of the backwoods, i., 
8 



Sounds, in the wilderness, i., 

80,81; in the forest, i., 172 

Stalk, an early, i., 195 

Stalking, antelope, i., 73-75; 

the bighorn, i., 125-128; a 

bull elk, i., 226; buffalo, 

ii-. 13 
Stampede of buffalo, ii., 14 
Start for a hunt, the, i., 48 
Striking camp in bad 

weather, i., 236 
Stump, Judge Yancy, ii., 206; 

his hounds, ii., 206 
Sword- Bearer, the Crow 

medicine chief, ii., 247 



Tale of western life, a, ii., 

229 
Tepee or wigwam of an old 

hunter, i., 91; a tepee, i., 

212 
Tompkins, Old Man, i., 56, 

198 
"Town," anew Western, ii., 

227 
Trackhounds, i., 47 
Trappers, the early, i., 12 
Travelling, difficult, i., 133, 

134, 140, 158, 185 
Trout, an abundance of, i., 

207 
Two-Ocean Pass, i., 220 



Unsportsmanlike killing of 

deer, i., 44 
Upper Geyser Basin, i., 236 



Valley, a lovely, i., 121 
Venison of elk as a diet, i., 

207 
Visitor at the ranch, a, i., 52 

Wadsworth, Mr. Austin, ii., 
167 



294 



Index 



Walker, General W. H., and 
the buffaloes, ii., 19 

Wapiti (bull) , fight between 
two, i., 188; habits of, i., 
191; cowardice of, i., 191 

Wapiti, the, i., 4, 17; pug- 
nacity of, i., 191; ways 
of fighting, i., 192; the 
"whistling" of the, i., 194; 
gait of, i., 197; on the 
Little Missouri, i., 197; 
antlers of the, i., 201; 
noblest of his kind, i., 239 

Washington as a sportsman, 
ii., 274 

Water-ousel, i., 160 

Water-shrew, capture of a, 
i., 161 

Water- wren, the, i., 206 

Waters, Wilbur, ii., 33 

Whisky-jack, the, i., 206 

Whitney, Caspar W., ii., 113 

Wildcat, the, often hunted 
with hounds, i., 202 

Wilderness, the American, i., 
I 

Williams, Colonel Roger D., 
ii., 164, 217 



Willis, John, i., 131, 155, 184 

Wolfers, the, ii., 190 

Wolf, the, i. , 20 ; where found 
in United States, ii., 188, 
191; varieties of, ii., 188; 
colors of, ii., 189; whole- 
sale killing of, ii., 190; 
scarcity of, ii., 190, 191; 
difficult to hunt, ii., 191; 
size of, ii., 194; attacks 
cattle, ii., 195; cunning of , 
ii., 198; food of, ii., 199; 
rarely attacks man, ii., 
201; should be hunted 
with dogs, ii., 202; hunt- 
ing the, ii., 207; killed by 
hounds, ii., 214 

Wolverine Pass, i., 231 

Wood buffalo, ii., 22 

Woods on fire, the, i., 157 

Woody, Tazewell, i., 129, 
211, 216, 232; ii., 98, 
241 

Wranglers, night- and day-, 
i., 27, 68 



"Yard," a, i., 264 



H 22 88 












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